Sunday, July 26, 2009
Victim Of Former Lone Peak Seminary Principal Michael Pratt Speaks Out In Deseret News Article
In order to dispel defamatory rumours about her virtue, the alleged victim of former Lone Peak High School seminary principal Michael Pratt (pictured at left) allowed herself to be interviewed by the Deseret News. The resultant four-page story, too long to be posted on this blog, can be read HERE.
In summary, the girl traces the beginning back to the January 2009 time frame. It was at this time that Pratt began to noticeably pay more attention to her than to other students. Since his interaction with the girl was strictly platonic at this point, his increased interest triggered no alarms. But as a result of Pratt's attention, the girl began confiding in him about her concerns, her hopes, her fears and her dreams. And Pratt acted like a good listener.
The platonic friendship not only continued to grow, but the girl seemed to be benefiting from Pratt's counsel. Her parents noted positive changes in her, so they also had no reason to be suspicious of Pratt's role at that point. But by April 2009, the tiny hairs on the backs of the parents' necks began to stand up - they began to suspect there was more than met the eye.
What changed? Simple - the girl started obsessively referring to Pratt in her ordinary conversation. It was "Brother Pratt this", and "Brother Pratt that", and "Brother Pratt everything else" - almost in every sentence, it seemed like. And, being savvy parents who had been teenagers themselves, they suspected this was a sign that the relationship had transitioned from the platonic phase to the romantic phase, without it necessarily becoming sexual at that point. Most teenage girls who fall in "love" with a peer can't stop talking about him for five minutes. But the girl quickly brushed off suggestions that she might have a crush on Pratt.
Nevertheless, things quickly progressed to the worst. A few days later, Pratt confessed his love for the girl to her, telling her how special and unique she was. And of course, this inexperienced girl became absolutely overwhelmed by attention; after all, here was a relatively handsome, experienced man of the world, packing a temple recommend, implying that if she threw in with him, he could take her straight to the celestial kingdom and make her his goddess. The fact that Pratt was already married with children was completely lost upon this inexperienced and vulnerable Mormon girl; how could she resist such a sales pitch?
And so by May, Pratt began taking her out of school without any permission. The first time they went to Bridal Veil Falls, where Pratt told her about his fantasies involving the two of them. The two ended up in the boxcar near Vivian Park where kissing turned into a sexual encounter. But this was just the beginning. Even after school was out, Pratt would pick up the girl and take her to various places in Utah County for more sexual activity, including Pleasant Grove, American Fork, the warm springs in Goshen and a mine in Eureka. Although the girl suspected that what they were doing was wrong, Pratt made her believe that it would all work out.
The suspicions of the girl's parents continued to build, but they still lacked the smoking gun. However, in late May, when the girl went for a walk, her parents followed her and caught her getting into Pratt's car several blocks away. Her father immediately read Pratt the riot act, telling him that his daughter is "never, ever to be in your car," and demanding that communication with his daughter cease.
Unfortunately, that was not the end of the story. When the girl disappeared with friends all day and didn't answer calls or text messages, they began monitoring phone records. The parents allege the records show dozens of calls each week between their daughter's cell phone and the seminary building, or from Pratt's cell phone to their daughter's phone. And the last straw came when the girl's dad noticed a call to his daughter from an LDS stake center in Orem, where the dad said he confirmed Pratt had been attending an evening meeting. Pratt was a counselor in a singles ward bishopric in Orem, according to ward members. So the father said he called officials at the Church Educational System of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and voiced his concerns. "Something doesn't add up," he said he told them. "I don't have the hard evidence, but something doesn't add up." The Church investigated, and several days later, terminated Pratt's employment.
And shortly thereafter on July 9th, Pratt was arrested, and now faces 21 separate felony charges stemming from the alleged sexual relationship and abuse of this girl. They consist of 10 counts of forcible sodomy, seven counts of object rape and two counts of rape — all first-degree felonies. He has also been charged with two second-degree felonies of forcible sex abuse.
The girl's parents should not be second-guessed. They took all reasonable measures necessary to bring this case to light, short of chaining their daughter to an engine block. As a matter of fact, they probably intervened more than most parents would, perhaps intervening in time to prevent their daughter from getting pregnant out of wedlock. They are certainly not to blame in this incident.
This does not appear to be a repeat of the circumstances involving Salt Lake West High teacher Jose Fanjul. Fanjul's accuser was a trollop who flirted with many male teachers on campus and got another counselor put in jail. In contrast, this girl has credibility.
A number of Pratt's advocates think we should "pray" for him. If "praying" for him means praying that the truth come out, justice be served, and that he be treated fairly, no problem; that does not breach the presumption of innocence. But if people are praying that Pratt gets off the hook, that would be inappropriate. It is never appropriate to ask our Heavenly Father to help someone escape and evade justice. Justice without mercy may be tyranny, but mercy without justice is anarchy.