A Petaluma woman was sentenced Friday to 25 years to life in prison for a 2015 case in which she was accused of arranging sex for men with two family members — an 8-year-old girl and a developmentally disabled woman.
Tawnya Lynn Hopper, 44, received the punishment as part of a plea bargain with prosecutors who agreed to drop the counts related to the woman, now 22. If convicted as charged, she faced more than 60 years in prison.
At her sentencing before Judge Jamie Thistlethwaite, Hopper’s mother, Louise Brawdy, said her daughter had been a victim of childhood sexual harassment at school.
The experience had a profound effect on her life choices over the past 25 years, causing her to “look for acceptance and love in all the wrong places,” her mother said.
“I can’t tell you how many nights I laid awake crying,” Brawdy told the judge.
Hopper spoke briefly, expressing regret for permitting the sex with her family members. She said she wished she had been arrested sooner for an underlying drug problem so she could have received treatment.
Her crime came to light during an FBI investigation into a pair of Bay Area child pornography suspects. Text messages from the two led to Hopper, who was accused of orchestrating the sex at her two-story Wilson Street home.
Both victims testified at a preliminary hearing that Hopper led them to a room where men were waiting for sex. At least one of the assaults was videotaped.
Among the legal questions raised by Hopper’s lawyer was whether the disabled woman was capable of giving consent.
In July, she pleaded no contest to a single count of sexual intercourse with a child under 10. About a dozen other charges were dismissed. Hopper could be eligible for parole in about 17 years.
The child has since been placed in foster care at an out-of-state location. The disabled woman spoke at the sentencing, asking the judge to lift a restraining order so she could write to Hopper in prison.
“This was really an atrocious crime,” District Attorney Jill Ravitch said in a written statement. “We believe the significant prison sentence is a just outcome for this case.”
You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 707-568-5312 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @ppayne.