Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Former LDS Seminary Principal Michael Pratt Pleads Guilty To Four Felony Charges Of Sexual Abuse Of A Minor

Michael Pratt, a former seminary principal with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, pleaded guilty to several sexual abuse charges on Tuesday June 1st, 2010. Pratt pleaded guilty to one count of forcible sodomy, two counts of object rape, all first-degree felonies, and one second-degree felony count of forcible sexual abuse. The most detailed story was published by the Provo Daily Herald; other useful sources include the Deseret News, the Salt Lake Tribune, and KSL Channel 5. KSL news video embedded below:

Video Courtesy of KSL.com

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

Pratt was charged with 15 felonies, 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, all for a sexual relationship he began in 2009 with a 16-year-old seminary student at Lone Peak High School. His trial was to have begun on June 14th. The remainder of his charges were dismissed as part of the plea agreement. Pratt faces a sentence of five years to life in prison for the first-degree felonies and one to 15 years in prison for the second-degree felony when he is sentenced August 31st. It is expected that he will serve as much as seven years in prison; the prosecution has already agreed to concurrent sentencing. Pratt's defense team is also asking that Pratt be sent to jail rather than prison. The victim herself spoke out at length about her experience in this July 26th, 2009 Deseret News article; she's reportedly satisfied with the outcome and relieved that she will not have to "re-live" the experience on the witness stand.

Yet it appears Pratt is still in partial denial. It is reported that Pratt pleaded guilty primarily to "take responsibility in the case" and because he felt the evidence against him was too strong. There's no evidence of any overt contrition on his part yet.

Implications on Pratt's LDS Church Membership: Although the LDS Church immediately removed Pratt from his seminary position when he was first arrested, no action was taken against his Church membership pending a resolution of the case. Now that Pratt has pleaded guilty, we can expect the Church to convene a disciplinary council. Because Pratt holds the Melchizedek Priesthood, his stake president most likely will convene the council rather than his bishop. The most likely outcome is excommunication, but the Church normally does not publicly disclose the outcome of these proceedings.

Pratt could be reinstated in the Church after his prison sentence is completed if he shows complete repentance. But because he committed a sexual offense against a minor, his Church records will be annotated so that he will never be allowed to be alone with children while at a Church function. This procedure was recently reiterated by the LDS Church's outside legal counsel Von Keetch.

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