ALL NEWS

Former BYU professor charged with 5 more counts of forcible sexual abuse

Jan 25, 2022, 9:17 AM | Updated: 9:36 am

professor sexual abuse...

Former BYU professor Michael James Clay was charged with an additional five counts of forcible sexual abuse on Jan. 14, 2022. Photo: Alison Fidel / BYU

PROVO, Utah — A former BYU professor was charged with two counts of forcible sexual abuse of a student. Then, two other students came forward with allegations. Now, Michael James Clay will face 5 additional charges when he appears in court in February.

Michael Clay was a professor at Brigham Young University. Three of his former students now allege he sexually abused them. The students allege he used religion and his authority as a professor in his abuse and to keep them from telling others. 

Clay is from Springville. He was the head of Urban and Regional Planning in the Geography Department at BYU. In his role with the university, Clay had the ability to hire interns and teaching assistants. 

The first victim

The first victim who came forward with allegations against Clay was a student from outside of the United States. Clay told the student his office was a “safe place,” according to court documents.

They met over a dozen times. When the student brought up the possibility of seeking counseling from a mental health professional, Clay allegedly told the student they should stop meeting if she did this.

On one occasion, Clay reportedly told the victim that he had prayed about her. He said he felt inspired by God to engage in physical contact with the victim.

In winter 2020, Clay allegedly forcibly sexually abused the first student who would come forward with claims. 

The second and third victims

The second student who alleged Clay abused her began working for the former professor in 2017. Clay was in a position of authority over the student as the head of the department she was majoring in and as her boss at his private firm. 

Like the first student’s allegations, the second student claimed Clay would tell her their meetings were a replacement for therapy with a mental health professional. He also allegedly gave the student priesthood blessings and asked her about her sex life. 

When Clay began the alleged sexual abuse, the student claimed she was afraid of refusing because of his power in her field of study and career aspirations. The touching only stopped when their meetings ended with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The third victim also worked for Clay as an intern in 2018 and 2019. 

The student said Clay told her he had “single handedly put together the broken pieces of many girls and that if she wanted to feel Heavenly Father’s love again she would need to come and talk to him in his office.”

As with the claims of the other two students, the third student said these meetings that were under the guise of counseling sessions. During the meetings Clay asked her inappropriate questions; questions about her sex life and masturbation. It was also during these meetings Clay allegedly sexually abused her. 

Seven charges, three similar accounts of sexual abuse from former professor

With the claims of three students, Clay now faces 7 total charges of sexual assault. The first two charges came from statements made by the international student. The added five charges came from the two students who worked for Clay both at BYU and at his private firm. 

Clay is scheduled to appear in court on February 14. 

Other stories:

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

All News

Kouri Richins, a Utah mother of three who authorities say fatally poisoned her husband then wrote a...

Bridger Beal-Cvetko, KSL.com

Kouri Richins’ attorneys ask to withdraw from representing her in murder case

Attorneys for Kouri Richins requested to withdraw as her defense counsel and asked a judge to appoint new defense attorneys on Friday.

3 hours ago

Two teenage girls were hit by an SUV in Spanish Fork Saturday afternoon. Both girls are at Primary ...

Devin Oldroyd

Teenage girls in critical condition after being hit by SUV in Spanish Fork

Two teenage girls were hit by an SUV in Spanish Fork Saturday afternoon. Both girls are at Primary Children's in critical condition.

5 hours ago

The Salt Lake City Police Department arrested a man for allegedly kidnapping and holding a woman ag...

Devin Oldroyd

Salt Lake City police arrest man for alleged kidnapping Saturday

The Salt Lake City Police Department arrested a man for allegedly kidnapping and holding a woman against her will Saturday.

5 hours ago

SLCPD police car...

Devin Oldroyd

Salt Lake City Police Department responds to two shootings Saturday morning

The Salt Lake City Police Department is investigating two shootings that happened early Saturday morning. Both investigations are ongoing.

6 hours ago

A Utah County Sheriff's Office emblem...

Kennedy Camarena

Man was life flighted after falling 16 feet off of barn’s rooftop in Utah County

A man in his 20s had to be life flighted out of Utah County on Saturday when he fell 16 feet off of a barn rooftop.

7 hours ago

Police and firetruck lights....

Kennedy Camarena

Crane driver killed in work accident

A man working at a worksite in the Summit County area has died after the crane he was driving rolled over an embankment.

11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.

...

Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

Former BYU professor charged with 5 more counts of forcible sexual abuse