PLEASANT GROVE -- Police have arrested a teacher at a private school in Pleasant Grove for allegedly having sexual relations with two students.
According to Pleasant Grove detective Ryan Armitstead, 27-year-old Broch DeGraff was arrested Wednesday after two victims were identified. DeGraff taught at the Liahona Preparatory Academy, which Armitstead described as an LDS-themed private school that serves students from kindergarten through 12th grade. Armitstead said the alleged victims were teenage girls. Authorities learned of the incidents after one of the girls reported the alleged abuse.
DeGraff was booked into jail Wednesday on two first-degree felonies and six second-degree felonies, all forcible sexual abuse.
School spokeswoman Ganel-Lyn Condi said DeGraff was terminated as an employee in August when the investigation began. She also said parents were notified of the incident Aug. 10. Condi added that the school was founded by DeGraff's parents and is oriented around LDS principles but not operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Armitstead said DeGraff worked as a soccer coach and began grooming the two girls with text messages. The text messages were ostensibly innocent at first, dealing with soccer games and other matters, but eventually escalated.
"That led to late meetings at night," Armitstead said. "And usually it resulted in some type of sexual abuse."
Police believe DeGraff abused one of the girls for two months and abused the other girl for roughly four months. All the abuse is believed to have occurred within the past year. Armitstead said police do not believe there are additional victims, but added that if someone else has been abused they should come forward.
A police report adds that DeGraff has reached out to prosecutors regarding a possible plea bargain. According to the report, police initially confronted DeGraff about the alleged abuse and he asked to speak with his lawyer. The lawyer then contacted police, saying DeGraff admitted some abuse had occurred and wanted to make a deal with prosecutors.
However, police reportedly responded to the lawyer's inquiry by saying that they were enhancing DeGraff's charges because he held a position of trust. The Utah County Attorney's office has decided to pursue the case, the report states.
The report adds that on Wednesday the county attorney's office learned that DeGraff "would possibly flee the state and move to Mexico once he learned what charges were being filed." He was arrested later that day.
According to Condi, the school held a meeting in August, during which the DeGraffs explained the situation and parents voted on whether or not to continue operating the school. Condi, who has a son at the school, said the overwhelming majority of parents voted to continue and the DeGraff family is trying to support them.
"It has been emotionally overwhelming on so many levels for the DeGraffs," Condi said. "They are committed to supporting everybody. The DeGraffs are committed to this not happening again, to taking care of the kids."
Condi went on to say that the school was founded in part to avoid these kinds of situations and has policies designed to protect students.
"There's policy in place just like at any school that if it had been followed this wouldn't have been happened," she said.
The school has been reviewing its policies since the allegations came to light.
In the meantime, at least one of the girls is struggling with having been abused.
"It's kind of shot her whole dreams down in terms of relationships," Armitstead said.
DeGraff was booked on eight counts of forcible sexual abuse and remains in custody Friday. Armitstead said DeGraff does not have a criminal record. His bail was set at $50,000, cash-only.