Former BYU professor heads to court Feb. 14 for 7 counts of sexual abuse

Jan 25, 2022, 11:48 AM | Updated: 3:32 pm
Former BYU professor , 45, of Springville, has been charged with two counts of forcible sexual abus...
Former BYU professor , 45, of Springville, has been charged with two counts of forcible sexual abuse, a second-degree felony. He is accused of sexually abusing one of his students.

UTAH COUNTY— Michael James Clay, a former BYU professor will go to court Feb. 14 to face seven charges of sexual abuse from 2020.

Clay, 45, of Springville was a professor and formerly head of his field in Urban and Regional Planning in the Geography Department at BYU. He was unemployed by the university in April of 2020 according to the Deseret News.

According to charging documents, Clay abused his power as a professor, head of department, and spiritual leader to manipulate and sexually abuse three different women that were students within his program.

Each of the women had confided in Clay as a professor about some personal or emotional struggles. Clay would encourage the women to continue to meet with him privately instead of a therapist since he was someone that “already cared” about them documents state.

After several meetings, Clay would allegedly engage in some form of physical or sexual contact without consent. Clay followed this pattern of behavior with each of the three victims, reminding them of his power within the program, and convincing them his sexual behaviors were somehow therapy for the things they were going through.

Clay would make the women delete all text messages with him and told one victim his office was, “a safe place and that she should not tell anyone what went on there,” court documents state.

Clay even gave Priesthood blessings, (a prayer given for healing, comfort, or counsel by those with authority in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,) directing the women what to do and on one occasion, right before attempting inappropriate contact.

Clay told one victim that he had prayed about her and felt inspired from God to engage in physical contact with the victim.

On another occasion court documents state that after inappropriately touching a victim sexually he asked if she enjoyed it. She replied that she did not and he told her she “needed to practice and to try to connect more.”

Many of the victims described fear in saying no to Clay since he would mention how much control he had over their degree and career.

Clay faces seven counts of forcible sexual abuse, a second degree felony.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

SLCPD confiscated an air soft gun after reports of the suspect pointing a rifle at people. (Photo: ...
Michael Houck, KSK TV

Salt Lake City officers respond a person pointing rifle at people

Salt Lake City police responded to multiple calls of a person pointing a rifle at people Friday night, only to find it was an airsoft gun.
13 hours ago
Two men dead, three hospitalized after a North Ogden pursuit (Credit - North Ogden Police)...
Michael Houck, KSL TV

Two dead, three hospitalized after a North Ogden pursuit

Two men are dead after fleeing from a traffic stop and crashing into a tree in North Ogden Saturday morning, according to North Ogden police.
13 hours ago
One of two Arthur V. Watkins Dam siphon pipes that will be replaced with a direct outlet pipe is vi...
Amy Joi O'Donoghue, Deseret News

‘Water is not going to magically appear,’ says Interior’s Tanya Trujillo

How money can help the West navigate the water supply issue of drought.
13 hours ago
Matt Rascon, KSL TV

Friends remember mom, tattoo artist shot and killed in Pleasant Grove

A mother who investigators say was shot and killed by her son in Pleasant Grove Thursday night was a beloved friend and tattoo artist who had just recently married.
2 days ago
(Davis County Sheriff's Office)...
Andrew Adams, KSL TV

Court documents: Man charged in Davis County stabbings ‘had fun’ and would do it again

A man accused of stabbing two women, including a Tinder match, told investigators he “had fun,” would do it again and had constructed a mask for “hunting people,” according to court documents.
2 days ago
(Adam Sotelo/KSL TV)...
Alex Cabrero, KSL TV

Best climbers in the world competing in event at Pioneer Park

Some of the best climbers in the world from several different countries are in Salt Lake City this weekend to compete in an International Federation of Sport Climbing World Cup event.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Earth day 2022...

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Make Money Online Easily...

4 Ways that You Can Make Money Online Easily in Just a Few Clicks

Here are 4 ways that you can make money online easily in no time at all! Some are as simple as just a few clicks away.
tips to winterize your home...
Bonneville Digital SLC

Tips to Winterize Your Home | The Top 5 Ways You Can Prepare for the Cold Utah Winter Ahead

Before the snow hits, here are the top 5 tips to winterize your home to prepare for the cold Utah winter this year.
Former BYU professor heads to court Feb. 14 for 7 counts of sexual abuse