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AUBURN — For his attempt to have sex with a 12-year-old girl in Cayuga County, a former West Genesee Central School District board of education member was designated a Level 1 sex offender in Cayuga County Criminal Court Thursday.

In October 2017, James Soper, 47, was arrested in what Cayuga County District Attorney Jon Budelmann previously called a "to catch a predator situation." Soper, at the time, made arrangements to meet with who he thought was a 12-year-old girl for oral sex in the town of Aurelius.

The girl he arranged to meet with, however, turned out to be a state trooper. Soper was arrested Oct. 30, 2017, and remanded to Cayuga County Jail. He posted $5,000 in bail that same night and was released. He soon after resigned from the board of education at West Genesee Central School District. Soper's term was supposed to run through June 30, 2020.

While initially facing two felony sex offenses, first-degree attempted criminal sex act and first-degree attempted disseminating indecent material to a minor, Soper was sentenced in August to six months in jail and 10 years probation for second-degree attempted criminal sex act, a class E felony.

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In court Thursday, Soper, of 4011 W. Langerwood Lane, Syracuse, appeared with his defense attorney, Michael Vavonese, for his sex offender risk level assessment.

The risk assessment instrument accounts for four categories including current offenses, criminal history, post-offense behavior and the defendant's release environment. Soper's assessment totaled 40 points solely in the offence category, as Judge Thomas Leone gave 20 points for the victim being under the age of 16 and 20 points for the victim being a total stranger. Leone stated Soper "has accepted responsibility," and found clear and convincing evidence to designate him as a Level 1 sex offender, with no special designation — such as being a sexual predator or a sexually violent offender.

As a Level 1 offender with no designation, Soper must register as a sex offender with the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services for the next 20 years. While information on Level 2 and 3 offenders is available online, by law the  DCJS cannot list Level 1 offenders on its website. Soper will also have to report to a local police agency every three years to have a photo taken and he'll need to verify his address annually and notify DCJS in writing of a new address within 10 days in the event that he moves.

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Staff writer Megan Ehrhart can be reached at (315) 282-2244 or megan.ehrhart@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter @MeganEhrhart.

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