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Charlottesville mother arrested on child porn, attempted exploitation charges

A Charlottesville mother who worked in and supported child advocacy organizations has been arrested and indicted on federal allegations that she traveled to Northern Virginia to sexually abuse a child.

The 45-year-old mother of two, Eleanor Beaumont Hunton Hoppe, was arrested on March 20 and charged with three federal crimes: distribution of child pornography, enticement of a minor and attempted transportation of a minor with attempt to engage in sexual activity.

Each charge is a felony, with one charge prescribing a prison sentence up to 15 years and another carrying a sentence ranging from 10 years to life.

“It’s a strong and serious case,” veteran Charlottesville defense attorney Dave Heilberg told The Daily Progress. “She’s in some real serious trouble.”

Hoppe pleaded not guilty on Tuesday during a video hearing conducted in the federal district court for the District of Columbia. There, the court records repeatedly list her name as Eleanor Hunter Hoppe.

However, she grew up as Eleanor Beaumont Hunton, scion of the family that founded Hunton Andrews Kurth, Richmond’s largest law firm. With over 900 attorneys, the firm’s history includes the late Lewis F. Powell Jr. who served on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Hoppe’s own history includes a former marriage to Joel Hoppe, a magistrate judge hearing federal cases in Charlottesville and other courtrooms in the Western District of Virginia. Their union produced two school-age girls, according to sources.

According to the government’s case against Eleanor Hoppe, a Washington, D.C.-based undercover FBI officer entered a fetish website in late February and conversed on an encrypted app with a woman who allegedly wanted to chat about “taboo parenting.”

According to the prosecution, Eleanor Hoppe allegedly sent a topless photograph of herself to the undercover officer to prove she was “safe” and then sent a video of an adult male penetrating the vagina of an apparent minor with his penis.

She then volunteered to travel to participate in abuse of what she was told was the man’s 8-year-old daughter, according to the prosecution.

“A great think to do is to wake her up by trying new things,” Eleanor Hoppe allegedly told the man. “That hazy/ dreamlike state is perfect to introduce a variety of new things … especially with someone to help with positioning her body and then you let her fall right back to sleep.”

Things reportedly escalated on March 16, the day of the planned rendezvous at a Warrenton motel.

Eleanor Hoppe reportedly sent three more images of adult males violating girls as well as a photograph of a pink silk robe she would bring to the rendezvous along with this alleged message: “Her big girl robe for tonight.”

“I’ll be [there] as soon as I can and I’ll get naked to,” she allegedly texted.

FBI special agent Emily Ekert wrote what happened next: “Upon arrival at the hotel, Hoppe was placed under arrest.”

Ekert wrote that Eleanor Hoppe waived her Miranda rights against self-incrimination to explain that she was trying to prevent the exploitation of a child. However, the agent noted that a search of Hoppe’s vehicle turned up a pink children’s tote bag containing silk undergarments, lubricant and a pink silk robe.

In 2019, Hoppe was found guilty in absentia in Chesterfield County General District Court of “undressing where prohibited” after an incident that occurred that autumn. However, she appealed the case to circuit court and got the charge dismissed.

The federal indictment has sent shockwaves through the local child welfare community.

“My gosh. I had no idea,” said Athena Gould, the executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Central Blue Ridge, when informed of Hoppe’s arrest.

Gould said that Eleanor Hoppe passed a thorough background check and left the employ of the organization about three years ago. Gould said that she worked only in special events, not with children.

Eleanor Hoppe’s most recent job was as an event planner at the University of Virginia.

UVa did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

With her ex-husband, Hoppe has donated to Foothills Child Advocacy Center, a child abuse prevention organization. And according to Hoppe’s LinkedIn page, she served two years as a victim’s advocate in the office of the Richmond commonwealth’s attorney about two decades ago.

The federal court file indicates that Eleanor Hoppe has been committed to the custody of the attorney general and denied bail. Records indicate she is being held at the Central Detention Facility in D.C. Her defense attorney, Ned Smock, with the Office of the Federal Public Defender, declined to answer questions from The Daily Progress.

Hoppe’s next hearing is set for June 6

For Heilberg, no case involving child pornography ends well for a defendant.

“Once the judge sees one of these images, the case is almost over,” said Heilberg. “About the only defense left is some sort of mental status, something that would mitigate the sentence.”

Source: www.dailyprogress.com

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