CEDAR CITY — A former Southern Utah University student who pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of attempted sexual assault on 2013 rape charges is now in Utah County Jail serving a 180-day sentence consecutively and subject to other orders, a plea deal the victim’s mother said was made with her daughter’s best interests in mind.
Aaron Jeffery Price, of Cedar City, will serve his sentence straight through rather than by weekends-only commitment, as court minutes previously erroneously stated.
After being charged with a first-degree felony for rape, Price pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of attempted forcible sexual assault as part of a plea deal with the Iron County Attorney’s Office.
At a sentencing hearing on Jan. 13, 5th District Judge Keith Barnes sentenced Price to prison for up to five years, which sentence he then suspended, and ordered Price serve a 180-day jail sentence (with credit for two days time served) and be subject to 36-months supervisory probation following, with numerous conditions enumerated including sex offender registry.
The judge also fined Price $9,533 and then suspended that fine except for a $33 surcharge. In addition, Barnes ordered Price to pay $1,129.15 restitution to the victim; pay for any counseling she may have undergone.
Contrary to what initial court documents indicated after the sentencing, Iron County Attorney Scott Garrett said, Price was not given the option to serve his jail time on weekends and will serve the time straight through. The documents indicating the weekend sentencing option have since been corrected.
While some members of the community have expressed their disappointment in the decision to offer Price a plea bargain, Chief Deputy Iron County Attorney Troy Little did everything with the victim’s well being in mind, the victim’s mother told St. George News.
In this case, putting her daughter through a trial could have been harmful and the decision to make a plea deal was done to protect her daughter, the victim’s mother said.
“We did not want her to become a victim again,” she said. “People need to remember that protecting a victim is of the utmost priority.”
In an order granting a modification of the jail venue, signed by the judge Jan. 23, Price was ordered to turn himself in to either the Iron County Jail or the Utah County Jail by 5 p.m. that day. According to current booking information, Price was taken into the custody of the Utah County Jail Friday.
However, in a judgment subsequently signed by Judge Barnes on Wednesday, it was indicated that Price was to turn himself over to the Iron County Jail. Price’s attorney, Aric Cramer, submitted an objection to that judgment that said the agreement with the prosecution allowed Price to serve his time at the Utah County Jail, where he currently is in custody. The objection requested that the judgment be modified accordingly.
Ed. note: To protect the identity of the victim in this case, her mother’s name is also excluded from this report.
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