Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Christopher Hoch - Repeat Sex Offender - Child Molesting, Child Porn Possessing Peeping Tom

Hoch committed the violation while serving on probation for another sex crime conviction.

A Montpelier man who committed a sex offense while on probation for stalking and child pornography will spend between 5 and 30 years behind bars.

Christopher Hoch, 46, was sentenced at a hearing in Vermont District Court in Barre on Tuesday, nearly four months after a jury convicted him of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child.

The sentence is a combination of a 2- to 15-year sentence for the lewd and lascivious conduct, along with a 3- to 15-year sentence that Hoch received for earlier convictions of stalking and child pornography.
Hoch was arrested for the stalking and child pornography in 2004 but eventually most of that sentence was suspended. His case highlighted Vermont's lack of a Peeping Tom law, and the Legislature passed an anti-voyeurism bill in 2005 in response to the case.
Hoch committed the lewd and lascivious conduct while he was on probation and in sex offender counseling for those charges.

In the lewd and lascivious conduct case, Hoch was a trusted friend of the victim's family and has known the victim her whole life. Hoch touched the girl, who was under 10 years old, under her pants but over her underwear and advised her not to tell anyone about it. Hoch's lewd behavior came to light when the victim revealed the inappropriate touching to her mother in January 2008, and an investigation soon led to Hoch's arrest.

At the hearing Tuesday, the victim's mother addressed the court under oath as she sat at the prosecutors' table. Hoch sat at the defendant's table, and the two looked at each other from about 10 feet away as the mother told him how his conduct has affected her and her child.

"You damaged my most precious gift in my life," she told Hoch.

"My daughter has been tormented and lives in a place that is not her normal self," she added.

The girl's mother said she believes her daughter will recover, but she's not sure she herself will.

Hoch's actions have shaken her beliefs and values, the mother said, and statements made by others in the courtroom indicate the mother has been left wondering if she could have done more to protect her child.

"She is understandably struggling with a concern and regret that this is her family and she failed to protect her family," said Washington County State's Attorney Tom Kelly, who prosecuted the case.

As she concluded her statement, the mother said she wanted Hoch to understand what he'd done, and said she hopes her words stay with him as he sits in prison.

"I hope they haunt you for a long time," she said.

Hoch, who was supported at Tuesday's hearing by seven people who sat directly behind him, also addressed the courtroom, and said he was sorry for what happened.

"I apologize and am sorry I let my friends and family down," said Hoch, a college educated artist, who created artistic memorial stones before he was jailed.

Hoch's voice broke as he told of his close friendship with the victim's family, and he said it's his hope that everyone involved can move on and heal.

Nine people, including friends and relatives, wrote letters supporting Hoch, though none of the people who attended the hearing wanted to comment outside the courtroom.

But the "man of great integrity" who is "entirely peace loving," as one letter describes Hoch, has a darker side, Kelly argued.

"I think he was leading, in some respects, a double life," said Kelly. "So I'm not sure that the people who wrote about him really know Mr. Hoch."
Hoch was arrested for the stalking and child pornography after an off-duty police officer discovered him snapping photos of an undressed girl through her bedroom window in Montpelier. A search of Hoch's computer revealed dozens of explicit photos, taken by Hoch, of unsuspecting area couples having sex and of women in various stages of undress. The computer also contained child pornography.
Kelly asked the judge to impose a five-year minimum sentence on the lewd and lascivious conduct charge, but Judge Christina Reiss opted to give Hoch the two-year minimum that is mandatory for the charge.

She said she didn't think the lewd and lascivious conduct case warranted a longer minimum sentence and pointed out that the combined minimum will be five years.

After the hearing, Kelly was not overly disappointed that he didn't get the 8-year minimum sentence he had requested.

"I think five years is a good long time," he said.
Kelly was also pleased that Hoch received a 30-year maximum which means he'll be under state supervision on a level higher than probation until he's in his mid-70s.
"25% of all sex offenders re-offend within 15 years"

.........Sarah Tofte

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