Universal Mentors Association

In plea deal, ex–BYU professor pleads no contest to groping


A former Brigham Young University professor has said he “intentionally touched the buttocks of three adult women … I should have known it would cause affront or alarm,” KSL.com reported May 19.

KSL reported that Michael James Clay said this in a statement supporting his no contest plea to charges of misdemeanor sexual battery. The outlet said this was part of a plea deal that dropped multiple charges of felony forcible sexual abuse against Clay and involves the Utah County Attorney’s Office recommending two years of probation.

Three students had accused him, KSL reported.

“Each of these students interacted with Clay in one-on-one interactions that mirrored therapy sessions, according to court documents,” KSL reported. “Each victim told police Clay used religion to manipulate them by giving priesthood blessings or talking to them about spiritual alignment. He also used his position as an associate professor and his ability to connect them to future jobs to convince them to continue visiting with him or not talk to others about their interactions, according to the charges.”

Neither the Utah County Attorney’s Office nor one of Clay’s attorneys responded to Inside Higher Ed’s requests for information Tuesday. KSL reported that Clay’s sentencing is set for June 26.


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