A Tennessee man was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Rome this morning to serve more than 15 years in prison on a charge of transporting a minor across state lines to have sex.

Carl Mitchell Hooper, 29, was sentenced by Judge Robert L. Vining Sr. to 15 years, 10 months in prison to be followed by 30 years of supervised release. Hooper pleaded guilty to the charge in August 2007.

According to United States Attorney David Nahmias and information presented in court:

Through his brother, who lived in a trailer park in Walker County, Hooper met a 13-year-old girl who lived in the same park. Shortly after she turned 14, he developed a sexual relationship with her.

At the time, Hooper was on probation for statutory rape but had failed to register as a sex offender. On June 15, 2006, the day after Hooper learned that an arrest warrant had been taken out based on his failure to register, he took the 14-year-old victim to a motel in Tennessee.

The next day, he took her to Jacksonville, Fla. The Jacksonville Police found them sleeping on the beach at night and asked Hooper for identification. Hooper showed his Tennessee driver’s license, and a check revealed that he was wanted for abducting the victim.

Hooper told the police that he knew that the victim was 14 years old, and he added that he believed that having sex with her was “okay” because she was pregnant with his child.

Hooper has been in custody since his arrest in Jacksonville.

(Walker County Messenger)