By Darrell Todd Maurina
Editor’s note: The Clovis News Journal intentionally withheld information from the following story in an effort to protect the identity of the victims.
Richard Swopes, 41, of St. Vrain, will spend at least 35 years in prison on a 41-year sentence following his guilty plea to three counts of criminal sexual penetration of a minor under 13 and possession of methamphetamine.
Ninth Judicial District Attorney Brett Carter reminded Judge Robert Brack that five different children were affected — three boys and two girls.
“These children were subjected to numerous sex offenses over a period of years,” Carter told the judge, who granted a request by Swopes’ defense attorney to minimize the details read in open court.
“I have reviewed the reports in detail,” Brack said. “These facts are all too fresh and I’m afraid will remain in my mind all too long.”
Carter said Swopes played games of strip poker in his truck while driving with the children, has a prior conviction for similar crimes in California, and also used methamphetamine to keep himself awake for days on end without eating. Carter also said the author of Swopes’ court-ordered sex offender treatment report had diagnosed Swopes with pedophilia and voyeurism and noted that he came from a family with four generations of abuse.
“She writes that this is the first case of this magnitude that she has ever heard or read about,” said Carter. “This defendant is probably going to re-offend when he gets out. I think at this point in time, the only way to stop him from re-offending is to sentence him to the maximum time possible.”
Richard Swopes broke down crying, apologized to his family and pleaded for mercy from the judge on the grounds that the sex offender treatment report provided so much detail because he wanted to be honest.
“I love (my family) more than anything in the world, especially my wife. I can’t undo anything that has been done,” Swopes said. “Being as open and honest as I’ve been, which is what my wife asked me to do so I could get the help I want and I need, I’ve condemned myself, and there is nothing I can do about that either.”
Despite imposing the maximum possible sentence, Brack told Swopes not to think that his openness in sex offender treatment and in making a plea bargain for which additional charges were dropped led to a harsher sentence.
“The benefit of this plea is that this sentence is not worse, which it might very well have been,” Brack said.
Brack noted Swopes’ own family history of four generations of abuse and said he hoped the sentence would put an end to their “ongoing nightmare.”