Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Defrocked Utah LDS Seminary Principal Michael Pratt Fails In His Attempt To Get Trial Delayed By Two Months; Still A "Go" For April 12th

Although an eight-day trial for former Lone Peak High School seminary principal Michael Pratt is set to begin on April 12th, 2010, Pratt and his defense team were back in court on February 16th, attempting to get a two-month delay in the start of the trial. Media stories published by the Provo Daily Herald (the most detailed report), the Deseret News, and KSL Channel 5. You can read all previous posts about this case HERE, with the most recent post appearing first. KSL news video embedded below:

Video Courtesy of KSL.com

Pratt's defense team claimed they need more time to prepare for the trial, primarily because of their busy schedule as public defenders. One of the defense attorneys, Dusty Kawai, said he currently has 200 cases, and Pratt's case takes 40 percent of his time every day. Pratt's attorneys also said they have been unable to interview employees who worked at the seminary, although an arrangement has now been made to talk to them in the presence of an attorney for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

However, the girl's stepfather counterclaimed that any further detail would hinder her ability to get on with her life. He said she lost half her junior year to Pratt's manipulations, and she lost her entire senior year of high school as well. He also suggested that Pratt's attorneys have tried to "trivialize" the relationship and that they want the girl to turn 18 before she takes the stand at trial, so that she would appear less like a victim.

Fourth District Court Judge Christine Johnson agreed with the prosecution and refused to grant the delay. After the hearing, Dusty Kawai said he would try to have the trial moved to another jurisdiction, or at least have the size of the jury pool increased to ensure an impartial panel. He believes everyone in Utah County is potentially tainted because of the magnitude and emotion attendant to the case. Comments to the KSL news story indicate that much of the public has already bagged and tagged Pratt in their minds, notwithstanding the presumption of innocence. Pratt has pleaded not guilty to 15 different charges, including one count of rape, eight counts of forcible sodomy and five counts of object rape, all first-degree felonies, and one count of second-degree felony forcible sexual abuse.

One more preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 23rd to argue several other pre-trial motions. Pratt's attorneys are attempting to exclude out-of-court statements made by his wife, as well as a note that was found in his car.

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