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20 years dealt in teen rape

Brandon Pate

Brandon Pate

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Allegations of sexual assault made by a teen two years after the attack have resulted in a 20-year prison sentence for a former Mill Creek High School student.

After 15 hours of deliberations that stretched across Easter weekend, a jury convicted Brandon Pate, 18, on charges of felony statutory rape, aggravated assault and possession of a knife during the commission of a crime, District Attorney Danny Porter said Wednesday.

The trial's outcome incensed family members on both sides of the case.

Pate's mother, who withheld her name, was outraged by the 20-year sentence meted out by Gwinnett Superior Court Judge Ronnie Batchelor. She claims key evidence was kept from the jury. Pate's attorneys plan to appeal, she said.

"There was so much information that was not allowed in the trial," she said. "If it was, there's no doubt he would have been acquitted of all charges."

The victim's father, meanwhile, said jurors bore too much sympathy for Pate, whom he knew personally.

"(The jury) felt sorry for this kid," he said. "They basically split it right down the middle -- they gave him half of what they should have."

The Daily Post is withholding the victim's father's name to protect her identity.

Porter contended the jury was privy to the circumstances surrounding the victim's outcry -- that she'd gotten in trouble at school and was threatened by her father to be screened for drug use and sexual activity.

Her father conceded that was correct, but said the girl's misbehavior was a result of the sexual assault.

Porter said key testimony came from another teen called by the state who claimed Pate had attacked her in a similar manner.

The attack in question happened around midnight in late 2006 or early 2007, when a group of teens snuck over to the victim's Dacula home and came in her bedroom window.

Pate forced the girl, then 13 and in the eighth grade, into sex by threatening to slit her sleeping father's throat, the jury found. She came forward about two years later.

Prosecutors believe the emotional weight of the attack finally forced the teen to tell police. Earlier in the trial, Pate's defense called the claims outright lies concocted by the victim and her friend, who testified she was in the room when the sexual assault occurred.

Pate was acquitted on a majority of his indicted charges, which included rape, child molestation, burglary, terroristic threats and cruelty to children. His attorney said he was either 14 or 15 at the time of the attack.

Being that the victim was younger than 14, the statutory rape charge is considered a felony and is exempt from the "Romeo and Juliet" provision. Consensual sex between minors who are at least age 14 and not more than three years apart is a misdemeanor, the provision states.

"It had to do with her age -- not his," Porter said.

Under rape shield laws, details pertaining to the victim's prior sexual activity were excluded from the trial, Porter said.

The victim has since moved out of state with her mother.