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Former Utah teacher gets prison for sexually abusing two students

Published April 16, 2013 3:02 pm

Courts • Broch Clyde DeGraff told two girls, 16, he loved them.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Broch DeGraff had told the teen girl that he loved her. That when she turned 18, he would leave his wife and they would be married in Mexico.

But the mother of the teen said Tuesday during a sentencing hearing for DeGraff — a former Pleasant Grove teacher who admitted to sexually abusing two 16-year-old students — that DeGraff's sentiments weren't genuine.

His end goal, she said, was to gratify himself sexually. And not only was he saying these things to her daughter, he had told another teenage girl a nearly identical story.

"The grooming words and deeds were the same," said the mother of the first victim. "The cute little acts that were used with [one victim] were used with [the other victim] ... His flirty acts and repeated one-liners were identical with each youth."

DeGraff, 28, taught at Liahona Preparatory Academy and was the soccer coach of both of the victims.

On Tuesday, he was sentenced by 4th District Judge Fred Howard to spend up to 20 years in prison for sexually abusing the two girls.

During the hearing, DeGraff wept while listening to one of his victims read from a statement.

"You took away my youth and took me to a very grown-up world," the girl said. "You took advantage of my naïveness and innocence. You told me this was meant to be."

The families of both victims, along with Deputy Utah County Attorney David Sturgill, asked the judge for prison time for DeGraff, who had pleaded guilty to two counts of a second-degree felony forcible sexual abuse and four counts of third-degree felony attempted sexual abuse. Three counts of forcible sexual abuse were dismissed as part of a deal, along with a first-degree felony forcible sodomy charge.

DeGraff's attorney, John Easton, asked the judge instead for jail time, which was the recommendation from Adult Probation and Parole. Dr. Carlos Roby, who completed DeGraff's psycho-sexual evaluation, testified during Tuesday's sentencing that he also recommended probation and jail time, saying he felt DeGraff was not aroused by children, but rather was projecting adult characteristics onto the teen girls. Roby said DeGraff was likely looking for someone to have a relationship with, as his marriage was deteriorating.

Before being sentenced, DeGraff tearfully apologized to the two victims.

"I want to say I'm sorry to both of you two," he said. "I was in a bad place and I brought you down. The hardest thing so far was hearing [one victim] standing up here and apologizing. She didn't do anything."

Howard ordered one of the second-degree felony convictions to run consecutively to one of the third-degree felonies, and all other counts to run concurrently, meaning DeGraff will serve a one-to-20-year prison term.

According to court documents, police suspect the abuse occurred from October to November 2011 with the first victim, and from April to June 2012 with the second. Detectives began investigating DeGraff after the girls came forward in September. While Easton emphasized Tuesday that no sexual intercourse took place, Sturgill told the judge that other sexual acts including touching the teens' breasts and genitals occurred.

Liahona Preparatory Academy is a private school for students in kindergarten through 12th grade that provides "core academic classes integrated with a Latter-day Saint gospel base," according to its website.

DeGraff is the son of the school's founders, Brent and Kolleen DeGraff, according to the school's spokeswoman, Ganel-lyn Condie.

jmiller@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jm_miller