Pleasant Grove teacher arrested in sex abuse case was flight risk, police say

Published: Friday, Sept. 21 2012 1:59 p.m. MDT

PROVO — Prosecutors had reason to believe a schoolteacher and coach accused of having sexual relationships with two female students would flee to Mexico if charges were filed against him, police said.

Police arrested Broch DeGraff, 27, at his Pleasant Grove home Wednesday and booked him into the Utah County Jail early Thursday for investigation of forcible sexual abuse. He was being held on $50,000 bail.

Deputy Utah County attorney David Sturgill said criminal charges will be filed against DeGraff on Monday.

On Friday, DeGraff's wife filed a request for a protective order against the jailed man.

According to a police affidavit filed Friday in 4th District Court, the county attorney's office received information that DeGraff "would possibly (flee) the state and move to Mexico once he learned what charges were being filed."

"People close to Broch came forward and said that he had mentioned he would actually flee the state or even the country once the charges were filed," Pleasant Grove police detective Ryan Armitstead said Friday. Those statements led to the decision to arrest DeGraff on Wednesday.

DeGraff was a teacher and soccer coach at Liahona Preparatory Academy, a Pleasant Grove private school owned by his father, Brent DeGraff. Curriculum at the school for students in kindergarten through 12th grade is based on values of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The affidavit alleges that Broch DeGraff fondled and sexually abused the two 16-year-old girls during separate relationships that police said carried on, one after the other, over a one-year period.

"He completed one with the one (girl) and went to the next one," Armistead said.

Some of the sexual acts occurred at Liahona Preparatory Academy and property adjacent to the school, while others took place at DeGraff's home, the affidavit states.

DeGraff was fired by Liahona Preparatory Academy in late July or early August when the allegations surfaced, said Ganel-Lyn Condie, spokeswoman for Liahona Preparatory Academy.

School administrators called a meeting with parents to inform them of the alleged abuse on Aug. 10, less than a week after they were notified of the allegations, Condie said. DeGraff was fired prior to the meeting, she said.

"The feeling at the parent meeting … was that (Liahona founders Brent and Kolleen DeGraff) take this very seriously," said Condie, who's also a parent of a Liahona student.

"We were given the opportunity to ask questions and express concerns," she said.

The alleged abuse was reported to school administrators after one of the girl's parents learned of the sexual relationship, police said. School officials then notified the Utah Division of Child and Family Services. The girls detailed the incidents during interviews with the division.

The school has policies in place designed to prevent abuse, though they were not followed, Condie said. Those policies are being reviewed by a committee of school administrators and parents to determine if any changes need to be made.

"They wanted to look at everything and say, 'Does anything need to be more stringent?'" she said. "There was already an emphasis on protection for students. In light of this development, it was worth looking at (the policies) again."

Some parents decided to withdraw their children from the school following the allegations, though the majority of them chose to keep their kids enrolled, Condie said. She said she and other parents believe their children are safer at Liahona than they would be at other schools.

There have been no previous allegations of sexual abuse at the school since it was founded in 1998, Condie said.

DeGraff has refused to talk to detectives and has hired an attorney, police said.

E-mail: jpage@desnews.com

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