BURNET, Texas (KWTX) Misty Rae Hopkins, the widow of a Burnet pastor, has been sentenced to five life terms and four 20-year terms after she was found guilty of aggravated sexual assault of a child and indecency with a child.
Prosecutors say she and her late husband confined and sexually abused their children over a period of seven years.
Assistant District Attorney Stacy Burke called Hopkins “a truly evil person who tortured her children.”
Hopkins, 49, and her late husband, John Hopkins, lived in Burnet where John Hopkins was the pastor of a church when the offenses occurred, prosecutors said in a press release Friday.
The charges against her stemmed from offenses committed from 1999 through 2005 in Burnet County involving “numerous acts of sexual abuse” that she and her husband committed individually and together, prosecutors said.
When the oldest victim was 14, the family moved to Blanco County and later to Llano County.
The abuse started when the oldest child was 7 and continued until she was 21 and was able to leave home with her younger siblings, once they were 17 or older, authorities said.
“The evidence further showed that Hopkins and her husband kept the children out of school and even isolated them from other family members,” District Attorney Sonny McAfee said in the press release.
Jurors deliberated for only about an hour before finding Hopkins guilty on all counts.
“During the punishment phase of the trial, the four children testified about the impact the years of silence, manipulation, and hiding had on them,” McAfee said.
Jurors returned the maximum sentences and maximum fines on all counts.
“Yesterday you said that your husband was the head of the house and God will hold him responsible. And I’ll simply tell you I hope he does and I hope he does you as well. And that’s for another day,” State District Judge Evan Stubbs told Hopkins, calling it the worst case of abuse he’s seen in 14 years of practicing law.
Stubbs ordered the sentences served consecutively.
“Once more, a Burnet County Jury has demonstrated that the people of our district have no tolerance for the abuse of children whether it occurs today or occurred a decade ago. The citizens on this jury did a tremendous job,” McAfee said.
Information about the incidents didn’t surface until 2014 when the victim reported the abuse to another law enforcement agency, which forwarded the information to authorities in Burnet, McAfee said.
John Hopkins had died by then.