WEST JORDAN — A South Jordan man convicted of trying to rape a 12-year-old girl he met on TRAX was sentenced to prison Tuesday despite protest from the girl's mother, who said her daughter lied to him about her age.
Third District Judge Douglas Hogan told Alec Cole Tate, 24, that he is responsible for making sure any sexual partners are of age, even if they give false information about how old they are.
"Regardless of whether they lie or somebody else lies," Hogan said, "it doesn't change where the liability falls." He ordered Tate to serve at least two years and up to life in prison.
The girl's mother in a letter to the judge said her daughter recently told her the truth about what happened with Tate, including that he broke off the relationship when he found out her real age.
"I was very disappointed in her and her actions and she feels really bad about this," the girl's mother wrote. She urged the court not to send him to prison and said she felt he didn't pose a threat to the community. "If anyone is a victim I believe Alec Tate is the victim," states the letter dated Aug. 29.
Investigators said Tate asked the girl for her number when they met on TRAX in July, then texted her before they met up and had sex twice, according to charging documents. He originally was charged with two counts of rape of a child, a first-degree felony.
As part of a plea deal with prosecutors, he pleaded guilty in July to a reduced charge of attempted rape, also a first-degree felony. A remaining count of rape of a child was dismissed as part of the plea bargain.
Tate's defense attorney, Joshua Snow, agreed not to seek probation for Tate instead of prison time, and prosecutors recommended a prison term of at least three years and up to life.
A shackled Tate apologized Tuesday and noted he has participated in drug court, which helps connect offenders to treatment. He has several drug-related convictions, and Hogan ordered penalties for some of them to run at the same time as the attempted rape sentence.
"I'm sorry for my actions," Tate said.
The judge said he believes Tate could one day make a fresh start.
"There's still a lot of good you can do," Hogan said.