Rape charge against student upheld

LAWRENCEVILLE - A Gwinnett Magistrate Court judge found probable cause Thursday to uphold rape charges against a 17-year-old Mill Creek High School student by virtue of the accusation alone.

A 15-year-old girl recently told police that Brandon Pate, of Dacula, forced her into sex during a late-night dalliance in 2006, when she was 13.

The incident came to light when the alleged victim, also a Mill Creek student, was caught selling marijuana at school and her father threatened to have her screened for drugs and sexual activity.

Though the alleged attack happened more than two years ago, Magistrate Court Judge Mark Layng Thursday bound the rape charge to Gwinnett Super Court for a possible indictment. His court has no jurisdiction to decide bond amounts in capital cases, he said.

"There's evidence that there's been an outcry (of rape)," Layng said. "The outcry alone is sufficient evidence to bind over the charge."

Some time in late 2006, Pate allegedly crawled through a window of the girl's Dacula home, pinned her down and had sex against her will when she denied his advances. His defense attorney, Wesley Person, argued the story was concocted as a means to explain the girl's past promiscuity when faced with trouble at school.

Pate immediately broke into tears as he was led into the courtroom, wearing a green jail jumpsuit. He'll remain at the Gwinnett County Jail pending a possible bond hearing.

Gwinnett police Det. D.L. Brewster testified Thursday that the alleged victim had arranged for Pate and his friend, a teen identified only as "Lou," to bring over a friend of hers the night of the attack. That friend, Brewster said, remained in the girl's bedroom as Pate snuck in and raped her.

"(The friend) said she sort of turned her back," Brewster said. The girls were too afraid to come forward in the intervening years, he said.

Neither girl could recall exactly when the alleged assault happened, he said.

The girls told police that Pate was armed with a knife. He threatened to slit the throat of the victim's father, who lay sleeping in a nearby room, if she didn't "give it up," Brewster testified.

Person called the accusations weak and suspect. He asked for the judge to bind over a lesser charge of statutory rape, but Layng declined because no evidence exists that the two ever engaged in intercourse, he said.

"This only comes up after the (girl) herself has been in trouble," Person said. "The outcry is of a very suspicious nature."

A prosecutor argued that accusations made by the two girls were valid, as evidenced by how their stories to police matched two years later.