Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Former Lone Peak Seminary Principal Michael Pratt Gets Bail Changed To "Bondable"; Next Hearing Set For September 8th In American Fork

Former Lone Peak High School seminary principal Michael Pratt appeared in court on August 18th, 2009, and got the conditions of his bail changed so that he can bond out and pay back those who paid for his cash bail earlier. In addition, a new hearing date was set because of delays in evidence discovery. Media stories published by the Provo Daily Herald, the Deseret News, and KSL Channel 5.

All previous posts on this case available HERE; the most recent post will appear first.

Pratt's defense team sought to increase the bail amount from $20,000 cash-only to $30,000, but make it bondable. This way, Pratt could pay $3,000 cash and get the rest of the money refunded, so he can pay people back. In addition, one of Pratt's attorneys, Dusty Kawai, told the judge they still need to see cell-phone records and text messages and asked for a three-week continuance. Prosecutor Julia Thomas said she still awaits a response by various cell-phone providers to comply with subpoenas for the information, but that the records are expected by September. The judge agreed to the bail adjustment, and set a tentative date of September 8th for the next hearing. KSL news video embedded below:

Video Courtesy of KSL.com

Pratt qualified for a court-appointed defense attorney because he lost his job after the allegations surfaced. He also supports a wife and three children and has no equity in his rental home.

To briefly recap the case, thirty-seven year old Michael Pratt, who is married with kids of his own, is charged with 10 first-degree felony counts of forcible sodomy, seven counts of object rape and two counts of rape, and two second-degree felony counts of forcible sex abuse. As spelled out in greater detail HERE, it began with texting between Pratt and the student, then Pratt began checking the student out of school, then allegedly took her to numerous locations around the Utah Valley to have sex. When this became public in July, the LDS Church promptly fired Pratt from his job as seminary principal. The victim herself spoke out at length about her experience in this July 26th Deseret News article.

While the LDS Church did fire Pratt from his seminary position, it appears they have not initiated any Church discipline against him to limit or strip him of his Church membership. According to a comment posted on KSL by Pat55 at 1:19 P.M: "Pratt is in my sister's ward. He is still attending church with his family. To my knowledge he has not been excommunicated, but that is quite the private matter". This distinction is quite proper; there would be no cause for the Church to try him for his membership unless he is convicted, or if he confesses to his priesthood chain of command (bishop or stake president).

Surprisingly very little discussion of this case in the organized LDS blogosphere. Only one LDS-friendly blog has reacted to my knowledge; Voice Of Deseret expresses concern that some of Pratt's former students and supporters may have become "cult followers". That's possibly because they issue statements like, "we'll always be there for him [Pratt]". That does sound a bit hopelessly romantic, and is a reminder as to why we punish crimes against kids more severely than crimes against adults. Teenagers can be more trusting - and more vulnerable - than adults.

No comments: