Seminary student's account of sex abuse is cautionary tale

Pratt's alleged victim says she felt he was her best friend and future husband

Published: Sunday, July 26 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

OREM It started out with talking.

She opened up about her concerns, her hopes, her fears and her dreams.

He was a good listener.

For six months their friendship grew, as they spent more and more time together in his office.

"He knew everything about me," the girl, now 17, told the Deseret News. "He knew what made me sad, mad, he knew my weaknesses, strengths. He knew me so well. And he played on that. He used that and slowly just pulled me in."

Soon, he wasn't just her LDS seminary principal. He was her best friend and, she believed, her future husband.

"I believe I did completely fall in love with him," she said. "He made it this big dream for me; our life together looked so amazing."

That dream imploded in early July, when the girl's parents said her LDS seminary principal and "perfect boyfriend," Michael Jay Pratt, was terminated from Lone Peak High School's LDS seminary program and was being investigated by the police regarding their relationship. He is married with three children, according to his comments to a judge Monday.

The girl was heartbroken.

"I feel like I've lost my best friend," she said. "I feel like he died. I miss the person I thought I knew."

That person she thought she knew was someone who was willing to listen and give her good advice. He was the reason she still came to seminary.

And he was helping her.

"We started to see positive changes in her," her dad said. "He was helping my daughter. He did help her. But all that good he did doesn't mean that he can't make a mistake and fall. And he made a huge mistake. It doesn't make him OK and my daughter a little slut because he did all those great things in the past."

The girl's name and her parents' names are not being used because she is an alleged victim of sexual abuse.

But despite the positive changes, the girl's parents began to worry about their then-16-year-old daughter.

"We suspected in April that she was becoming attached to him," her dad said. "It was Brother Pratt this, Brother Pratt that."

Their daughter quickly brushed off suggestions that she might have a crush on her leader, but her parents still wondered.

It was only a few days later, that the girl said Pratt confessed his love to her.

She was confused and worried, but he was persistent. And he was already her best friend.

"He always flattered me," she said. "He told me, 'You are amazing, you are meant to change the world.' He was like the ideal, perfect boyfriend. I believed him. I already had such a trust for him."

By May, the two started leaving school together.

Police say Pratt checked the girl out of school at least three times without her parents' knowledge or permission, according to a police affidavit filed in 4th District Court.

The first time they went to Bridal Veil Falls, where Pratt told her about his fantasies involving the two of them, she said. The two ended up in the boxcar near Vivian Park where kissing turned into a sexual encounter, according to the affidavit.

The whole time her parents thought she was at a friend's house.

Even after school was out, police say 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.

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