University student serves straight time, not weekends, for sexual assault; victim’s mother comments

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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  • sagemoon January 30, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    Thank you so much for the update on this case. I’m happy to hear that the victim is okay with the plea deal. Many blessings for her.

    • One for the road January 30, 2015 at 9:50 pm

      Yep Yep me to sage

  • Ashley January 30, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    Testifying against your perpetrator gives you empowerment and does not make you a
    victim again! Giving
    him the option to take
    a plea deal is
    ridiculous. I do not
    understand why these
    women do this (and I
    to have been raped)!
    Ultimately you allow
    these perpetrators to
    get a slap on the wrist
    as punishment for
    committing a heinous
    crime because you can
    not find the courage
    within your self to be
    empowered by
    testifying against
    him, it also gives you a
    sense of closure…..
    this is ultimately the
    reason why these men
    reoffend and get the
    opportunity to hurt
    another women the
    same way or possibly
    even worse (these
    types of offenders
    usually tend to
    escalate in their crimes)….. my
    message to victims of
    rape and sexual
    crimes: please find the
    courage within your
    self to testify against
    these men in order to
    punish him to the
    fullest extent of the
    law! It does not make
    you a victim. It
    empowers you, gives
    you strength and
    closure. Its also the
    one thing you can do
    to help lessen the
    Chance that he does this to another women. It gives you the ability to do your part in making sure another unsuspecting women does not become his next victim!

  • My Evil Twin January 30, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    Ditto Sagemoon’s post. My only complaint here, and I believe it is a valid one, is why the suspending of sentences? It makes no sense. If you are going to sentence the dirt bag, and then suspend the sentence why bother in the first place?

  • mshaw January 30, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    It does make sense the judge probably made z cash deal on the side otherwise he would of got prison time

    • One for the road January 30, 2015 at 9:49 pm

      Really..? Next time you have a thought pfffffffffft let it go

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