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Man pleads guilty to rape, sodomy and kidnapping in 1978 cold case, prosecutor says

Published: Dec. 2, 2020 at 2:53 PM EST
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COVINGTON, Ky. (FOX19) - More than 40 years after the crimes were committed, a man has pleaded guilty to rape, sodomy and kidnapping, Kenton County Commonwealth’s Attorney Rob Sanders said.

Michael Dean Tate, 78, was arrested at his home in Georgia on Nov. 14, 2019, in connection with an attack on a woman outside her home in Park Hills on Oct. 1, 1978.

Boone County Sheriff’s Department Detectives began looking into the Park Hills attack in 2017 after noticing similarities to an unsolved Boone County homicide case already under investigation, according to a news release from the prosecutor’s office.

Sanders says at the time of the attack police weren’t able to trace a fingerprint left on the victim’s car door because the technology was relatively new, but they resubmitted the print almost 40 years later and got a match to Michael Tate.

“Their investigation confirmed Tate’s presence in the Cincinnati area in the mid-70′s when he was working as a traveling salesman,” Sanders said.

The detectives who went to Tate’s home say he admitted to raping a woman near Covington but did not know the exact location or date.

They say Tate also admitted to additional sexual assaults in two other states, but no other charges have been filed to date.

“During the confession, Tate not only confessed to this rape, but mentioned that he had committed a number of other rapes in at least two other states other than Kentucky, so we believe that he was a serial rapist,” Sanders said speaking to FOX19 NOW Tuesday. “His name came about in the first place in connection to a homicide investigation. There’s still a number of open investigations into Mr. Tate. I think he’s a very dangerous individual who managed to skirt law enforcement for a long time.”

[ Boone County detectives solve 1978 rape case, suspect arrested in Georgia ]

Sanders says the victim was relieved she would not have to return to Kentucky for a trial.

“Most of all she was very appreciative of the detectives who took up the investigation and continued to fight for her even though four decades had passed,” Sanders said.

Sanders and First Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Casey Burns are recommending a 12-year sentence for Tate.

He will appear before Kenton Circuit Court Judge Patricia Summe to be sentenced on Jan. 12, 2021.

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