A Roland man found guilty of attempting to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity after exchanging messages with an undercover investigator conducting a sting operation was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison this week.
Patrick Karl Tate, 58, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge James M. Moody Jr., who presided over Tate's two-day trial in October 2019.
Testimony during Tate's trial established that in April of 2017, an undercover investigator with the Faulkner County sheriff's office saw an ad posted on Craigslist in a section known for sex solicitations. The ad specified it was looking for "mother/daughter," and it asked for responses to be sent through an online messaging service to a user later identified as Tate.
The undercover investigator and Tate began exchanging messages, which were introduced at trial, that indicated the undercover officer was posing as an adult male with access to his girlfriend's daughter, a 13-year-old child. In the messages, and in two recorded phone conversations that were played at trial, the undercover investigator and Tate made plans to meet so that Tate could have sex with the 13-year-old. In the messages, the undercover investigator told Tate that he should bring at least three condoms. The two agreed to meet at a location in Greenbrier on April 16, 2017, which was Easter Sunday.
Evidence at trial further indicated that on that day, Tate arrived at the agreed-upon location and was met by investigators from the Faulkner County sheriff's office, who arrested him. During a search, the officers found three condoms in Tate's possession.
During the sentencing hearing Wednesday, Tate's attorney, Bill James of Little Rock, argued that Tate's actions were in part prompted by the death of his wife, and he said Tate's age makes it unlikely that he will re-offend upon his release from prison.
"He is 58 years old at this time, which, by my rough estimation puts him at 66 before he gets out," James said. "I think the chance of him reoffending at that time are relatively small."
When given time to talk, Tate appeared contrite as he gave a brief, soft-spoken statement.
"I apologize for this thing happening and I never intended for things going the way they did," Tate said. "After my wife died I was making wrong decisions and I just let my life get out of control."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jordan Crews scoffed at Tate's explanation for his actions.
"The explanation that his wife died and led a man to pursue sex with a 13-year-old minor is somewhat disgusting to me," Crews said. "This is a deviant sexual activity. It's not something that just happens because someone's long time partner died."
In addition to 10 years in prison, Moody recommended that Tate receive psycho-sexual evaluation and participate in sex offender treatment. He also sentenced Tate to five years supervised release upon completion of his prison term.
After the sentencing, James said that Tate's Craigslist ad that caught the attention of the Faulkner County investigators led to an exchange that James said escalated at the prompting of investigators, who he said were the ones to first broach the subject of sex with a minor child.
"OK, look, he put the ad there and he went there," James said. "There was a lot of back and forth about whether he was afraid or he was scared and all, so at trial we argued that he walked into the bakery for a doughnut and they said 'Here, we have this marijuana brownie.' We were arguing that he wasn't looking for underage but wanted some mother/daughter action but the law for that is pretty bad for defendants. Entrapment is very difficult and to the extent the law allows you to argue it, we weren't there. I got close a couple of times, we tried to get as close as we could but the judge shut it down and that's the law."
James said he has no plans to appeal the sentence.