Victims, family speak out on decision to keep child rapist in prison

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SALT LAKE CITY — A convicted child rapist will remain at the Utah State Prison after the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole reversed its previous decision to release the man by Nov. 26.

Carbon County native Michael Doporto was convicted of one count of sexual abuse of a child and sodomy on a child in 1998, following a conviction five years earlier that was ultimately reversed on appeal. The sex abuse conviction carried a sentence of up to 15 years, which he has served. The sodomy conviction carries a sentence of 10 years to life in prison. The sentencing guideline was for Doporto to serve 14.5 years. He has already served 20 years.

Five women who say they were victims of abuse or rape at Doporto's hands spoke at a hearing Oct. 10, pleading with parole board officer Jim Hatch to keep Doporto in prison for life.

"There were a lot of people who thought that the parole board was going to release him," said Phil Sherwood, cousin to child rape victim, Azure Wakefield Davis. "Regardless of what our efforts were."

The past three months have been an emotional roller coaster for Sherwood and Davis. Davis testified at a trial in 1993 that Doporto raped her when she was 7 years old while living in Carbon County. She has since moved out of Utah.

"I just want to say I'm proud of you Azure," Sherwood said. "I'm proud you were able to take on this fight and win."

They spoke on the phone for the first time Wednesday, since Davis received notification the night before that Doporto would remain in prison.

"It's hard to put into words," Davis said. "I feel like so much more weight, since the parole hearing, has been lifted off my shoulders."

The decision about Michael Doporto brought mixed emotions for Davis.

"I feel like it's over," she said. "But I don't understand why he gets another hearing."

At a hearing in 2010, the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole decided to release Doporto from prison Nov. 26.

My heart does go out to the victims. My father obviously had a problem and he needed help. And he's gotten that help and to me, he is a changed man.

–Adam Doporto, Michael Doporto's son

Davis and Sherwood started an online petition and a Facebook page with the goal of keeping him behind bars.

"I'm not questioning the parole board's decision," said Adam Doporto, 26, Michael Doporto's son. "But I don't feel like the online petition and the Facebook page should've been used to determine the fate of my father's release."

Doporto said he is disappointed to have his father remain in prison and lamented that there are people who want his father to spend the rest of his life in prison.

"My heart goes out to the victims," Adam Doporto said. "My father obviously had a problem and he needed help. And he's gotten that help. And to me, he is a changed man."

In an email statement to KSL, Linda Doporto, Michael Doporto's wife of 44 years wrote that she prays for the victims to heal so they can move forward with their lives and achieve the happiness they deserve.

"I am very sad for the sorrow they (the victims) have endured throughout the years," Linda Doporto wrote. " I know there is no way I could take away their pain."

She said she is disappointed in the board's decision to rescind her husband's parole date because her family was preparing and looking forward to his homecoming for the past 3 years. She said that she loves him unconditionally.

"I also pray for my husband who was once a victim himself," she wrote. "He has worked very hard over the past 20 years to understand and use tools that he learned in the sex offender treatment."

Doporto's victim, Azure Wakefield Davis, who began this journey three months ago, said she's ready to move on with her life. Her cousin Phil Sherwood said she has become an advocate for other sex abuse victims she rallied together on Facebook.

"Our goal is to keep him there," Davis said. "And let all of the parole board members know that he is a serial rapist and will do it again."

Michael Doporto is now ordered to complete another 18-month sex offender treatment program. He will face the parole board again in May 2016.

Contributing: McKenzie Romero****


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