A Clearfield man pleaded guilty to having sex with a 15-year-old girl and fathering her child Tuesday in Clearfield County Court.
The teen and Austin Jay Patterson, now 23, were the subject of a nationwide search after they went missing in October 2016. Eventually the two were found in a trailer court in Nebraska.
Patterson pleaded guilty before Judge Paul Cherry to statutory sexual assault, two counts of hindering apprehension, flight to avoid apprehension, dissimilation of explicit sexual material with a minor, unlawful conduct with a minor, criminal use of communication facility, corruption of minors, endangering the welfare of children and disorderly conduct.
He received a sentence of 15 to 30 months in state prison. Patterson is already an inmate of state prison on a parole violation, where he is serving nine months to two years. The new sentence will be served consecutive to the parole sentence.
It was noted that Patterson underwent an assessment but does not meet the criteria of a sexually violent predator. Due to the nature of his crimes, he will still have to register with police under Megan’s Law.
Patterson’s attorney, Curtis Irwin, argued for his new sentence to be concurrent with the one he is serving now. Assistant District Attorney Jendi Schwab said she felt these serious charges require additional prison time. Cherry agreed.
Police records show that Patterson and the teen met after she asked him for boxing lessons. They kept in touch through social media because she was not allowed to see him.
During the summer of 2016 they “became more serious” according to Patterson and they first had sex during this time period, police said. It is estimated that their child was conceived Oct. 5, according to investigators.
On Sept. 30, 2016, Patterson and a friend, Kevin Osborn, took the girl to Maryland with them for a few days. She was returned to her Clearfield home, but she decided to leave with them again. She was reported missing by her father on Oct. 6, 2016.
Patterson was already on the run from the law for not appearing in court on a burglary charge.
The trio was located in Nebraska by U.S. Marshals on Nov. 30, 2016.
Osborn, who was also charged in this case, was sentenced in August to 30 days to one year in jail and two years probation for hindering apprehension and disorderly conduct.