Summit County attorney decries ‘leniency’ in sentence for child sex abuser
Perpetrator sentenced to 20 days in jail for felony crime
Summit County Attorney Margaret Olson is publicly questioning what she says is a lenient sentence in a case involving sexual abuse of a child, calling it heartbreaking and disturbing.
The perpetrator, a 22-year-old Provo man, pleaded guilty to felony charges that carried the potential of life imprisonment, but 3rd District Court Judge Richard Mrazik instead imposed 10 weekends in jail and 10 years of probation, along with suspended prison sentences. Those prison sentences may be imposed if the defendant, Tyler Austin Erickson, fails to successfully complete the decade term of probation.
“We are greatly disturbed by the leniency shown this offender, who is a danger to children,” Olson wrote in a prepared statement in response to a Park Record inquiry about the case.
She said the sentence sends the wrong message to the community, the victim and to the perpetrator himself.
Erickson was sentenced to 20 days in jail after pleading guilty to two felony charges for sexually abusing a 12-year-old Summit County girl he met online.
According to a probable cause statement, Erickson, then 20, drove to eastern Summit County in late 2019 to have sex with the girl, who had told him she was 12.
The two had discussed having a baby together, according to the statement. The girl’s grandmother discovered the pair lying naked together under a blanket. According to the statement, Erickson admitted to digitally penetrating the girl and attempting to have sex with her.
Erickson in January pleaded guilty to attempted aggravated sexual abuse of a child, a first-degree felony, and enticing a minor by internet or text, a second-degree felony. He was sentenced June 11.
In the 16 months since the incident occurred, Erickson has served one day in jail, according to attorneys involved with the case. He was released on an approximately $62,000 bond.
Mrazik imposed a sentence of 20 days in jail to be served two days at a time on weekends, placed Erickson on supervised probation for 10 years and ordered him to abide by Group A sex-offender conditions, among other restrictions. Mrazik also imposed suspended sentences of three years to life in prison for attempted aggravated sexual abuse of a child and one to 15 years in prison for enticing a minor.
Both the Summit County Attorney’s Office and the state’s adult probation and parole agency recommended Erickson serve time in prison, according to the attorney’s office and Mrazik’s comments during the sentencing hearing.
Mrazik said that several mitigating factors led him to impose jail time instead, including that Erickson had complied with everything required of him since he was arrested, had no prior criminal record and had voluntarily sought treatment.
“The crime is very serious. The effects of the crime are very, very serious, but I cannot consider those facts as aggravating factors,” Mrazik said. He continued, “I find that spending 10 weekends with the Summit County Jail will recognize the severe nature of this crime and at least signal to the community that the criminal justice system takes it very seriously.”
“The sentence sends the wrong message to the community. That message is that first degree sex offenses against children will not be punished commensurate with the serious nature of the crime,” she wrote in the statement to The Park Record. “The sentence sends the wrong message to sex offenders at large: that they can come into Summit County and offend sexually against children.”
Erickson was required to report to jail at 7 p.m. Saturday evenings to be released by 7 p.m. Monday evenings for 10 weekends starting June 26. The arrangement was designed to allow him to retain employment.
A woman identified as the victim’s grandmother had requested Erickson serve five years in prison.
Erickson expressed remorse while addressing the court.
“I know what I did was a horrible thing. And I’ve regretted it ever since, even before I was picked up by the police about a month or so later,” he said. “That night is a horrible night that’s lived in my memory, and I want more than anything, I want that gone. I wish that I could go back and change it. It was a horrible thing that I did, that I have no real excuse, because it happened. I just know that I don’t want to ever do that again. I don’t want to ever go through this whole process again.”
Erickson’s attorney, Brian Morris, requested probation rather than a prison sentence.
“In my experience, young men that get sent to prison, that becomes an indelible mark on them that negatively impacts them in ways that they have a very difficult time recovering from,” he told the court.
Morris said in a subsequent interview that the sentence was appropriate. He pointed to Erickson’s lack of a previous criminal history and what Morris called his client’s low risk of reoffending.
He characterized the sentence as an opportunity for Erickson to show his actions were a one-time mistake.
Joseph Hill, the prosecuting attorney, said that the victim experienced enormous trauma from the event, the effects of which continue to reverberate.
“I suspect while she is doing better now, that the impact from this event will be with her for quite a while,” Hill said in the hearing. “… I can think of very few circumstances where a 20-year-old trying to get a 12-year-old pregnant would not warrant prison, Judge, but this is one that absolutely does. The effect of this on this girl and the extent to which Mr. Erickson took advantage of her vulnerability, I believe, cries out for a serious penalty and it should be prison.”
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