Jerome man sentenced on charges he had sexual relations with minors | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey

JEROME — The mothers of sex abuse victims spoke out Monday as they told a judge what impact a sexual predator had on their daughters.


It was a story of innocence lost — years of childhood essentially gone.

Levi Benjamin Popplewell, 22, of Jerome was sentenced to prison after Judge Rosemary Emory heard victims’ impact statements along with statements from the prosecutor and public defender. He will serve at least six more years of prison time, with a lengthy indeterminate period of incarceration of about 15 years.

Popplewell was on probation for lewd conduct in a 2020 case that involved a 15-year-old girl, reports say, when in December and January he was sexually involved with three girls as young as 12, court records say.

He was charged with two counts of sexual abuse of a minor under 16 years, lewd conduct with a child under 16, and enticing children over the internet.

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In a plea agreement in May, Popplewell pleaded guilty to the count of lewd conduct and a count of sexual abuse with a child under 16 with two victims’ names on the amended complaint.

The woman who read her letter Monday on behalf of both her and her daughter said putting her words down on paper was a difficult task.

“What makes you think this is OK in any form?” the woman rhetorically asked Popplewell. “Innocence has been taken from her by a predator.”

Now her daughter doesn’t trust males and the woman said her daughter wants Popplewell to spend 15 years behind bars because that’s how many years it will take for her daughter’s sister to reach adulthood.

Another woman whose daughter was involved submitted a letter to the court, wanting to make sure other girls are protected.

The details of the 2023 case weren’t immediately available to the Times-News, but the first of the victims met Popplewell at his place of employment, public defender Steven McRae said. The two began to flirt and things escalated.

McRae said that Popplewell had fallen into a deep depression after a probation officer wouldn’t allow him to associate with a girlfriend who was over 18 because she had a young child.

Although Popplewell did not give a statement to the court, McRae said his client feels bad for what he’s done.

“He doesn’t like where he’s at,” he said, adding that Popplewell suffers from ADHD, and his intellect is “well below his age.”

Special prosecutor Trevor Misseldine, who serves as prosecuting attorney in Gooding County, said that Popplewell took advantage of the girls and that there is a “huge difference” intellectually between someone in their early 20s and their early teens.

With him receiving at least a minimum of six more years in jail, that will put Popplewell into his late 20s before he’s free, and will lessen the chance that he will be able to flirt with young girls, McRae said. Plus, the jail time will allow him to reflect on the poor choices he has made.

Emory handed down a sentence of four years fixed and 16 years indeterminate for each of the two counts in the latest case, but the sentences will run concurrently. Probation was revoked in the 2020 case and the original sentence of five years fixed and 15 years indeterminate was imposed. Sentences of the 2020 and 2023 cases will run consecutively.

Popplewell will get credit for a total of 853 days of time served between the two cases.

Emory noted that the long number of years on the indeterminate end could ensure that Popplewell could be “monitored for a very long time.”

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He was also fined $1,000 in court costs and needs to register as a sex offender.

A no-contact order with the victims will be in effect for 10 years.

After the court hearing, one of the mothers stood up in the gallery to give Emory her “heartfelt” thanks for the sentence.

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