Tuesday, November 10, 2009

UT: Former Seminary Principal Pleads Not Guilty to Sex Abuse of Student

Kirk Yuhnke, ReporterFOX 13 News
5:30 PM MST, November 10, 2009


AMERICAN FORK, Utah - A former Lone Peak LDS Seminary principal accused of having sex with a 16-year-old girl plead not guilty in a district courtroom Tuesday morning. Michael Pratt, 37, did not say anything to reporters on his way in and out of the courtroom. He is facing 15 charges including forcible sodomy, rape and sexual abuse. The charges are aggravated which means he could face a stiffer penalty because he was in a position of trust.

Pratt is accused of having sex with the 16 year old girl in various Utah County locations during the months of May and June. She, now 17, testified during the preliminary hearing in October that Pratt talked about moving away with her to get married. She said he would have her hide in his car at the seminary school before he drove the car to the various locations.

Julia Thomas, the deputy Utah County Attorney, said the law is stricter on those who hold a position of trust, "a child, a minor, has a different perspective on relationships and what the expectations are and the motivations are and what the hidden agendas might be."

The trial is set to begin on April 12th and last 8 days. Thomas said the victim's 2 hour testimony during the preliminary hearing was just the beginning of what jurors will hear during the trial, "what we heard at the preliminary hearing was a fraction of the evidence that is out there. The victim in the case testified, she didn't testify to everything that happened."

Pratt remains out of jail on a $30,000 bond. The court appointed defense attorney representing Pratt declined to comment following Tuesday's hearing.

FOX 13's Kirk Yuhnke reports.

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