Ex-CCDHS teacher accused of sex with student

By: 
AUSTIN LOTT
Star Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 13, 2018

A former science teacher at Custer County District High School is lodged in the Custer County Detention Center, accused of having sex without consent with a 15-year old female CCDHS student.

Morgan Pett, 38, was booked Tuesday on suspicion of six counts of sexual intercourse without consent, and one count each of sexual abuse of children and solicitation of tampering with physical evidence. 

Each count is a felony, and Pett is being held in lieu of $500,000 bail. 

Arraignment is set for 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in Custer County District Court. If convicted, Pett faces up to 100 years in state prison on each of the sexual intercourse and sexual abuse charges, and 10 years in prison for the tampering charge.

Custer County Attorney Wyatt Glade said Pett had fled when his actions became known, and he was eventually located in Alaska, arrested by local law enforcement and extradited to Custer County. He said he did not have any details of Pett’s arrest. 

According to court documents, Miles City police opened the investigation on Jan. 6, 2017 when David Counseling reported a child pornography case.

Pett allegedly had a relationship with a 15-year-old CCDHS student, who is identified only as J.F.V. (Juvenile Female Victim) in court documents.

Miles City police officers were shown images taken from Pett’s home computer and given to the counselor by Sarah Pett, the wife of the defendant.

The court documents said Sarah Pett confronted Morgan Pett about the alleged relationship, and her suspicion that he and J.F.V. had been using a messaging application that erases messages and photos after 10 minutes. The documents state that Morgan Pett admitted that J.F.V. had sent him nude pictures.

According to a statement taken Apr. 13, 2017 from J.F.V. the relationship began in October or November of 2016, when Pett and J.F.V. began to text daily. On Dec. 9, 2016 Pett asked the student to go with him to walk his dogs at Pirogue Island, which is north of Miles City across the Yellowstone River off Highway 489, the Kinsey road. She told investigators that Pett kissed her after walking the dogs.

On Dec. 11 he again invited J.F.V. to walk his dogs at Pirogue Island, and engaged in sexual activity with her after the walk, she claimed in the statement.

On Dec. 14, Pett invited the student to his residence, stating that his wife would not be home. They allegedly engaged in oral sex, according to court documents.

On. Dec. 15 Pett and J.F.V. engaged in sexual intercourse on Deadman’s road in the student’s vehicle, according to the victim’s statement, adding it happened again on Dec. 17 in the same vehicle and on Jan. 3, 2017 in Pett’s van.

Also, according to court documents, between Dec. 11 and Jan. 3 Pett and J.F.V. engaged in sexual intercourse in the guest bedroom of J.F.V.’s residence. 

On Jan. 4, according to charging documents, Pett sent a text to J.F.V. stating that his wife had gone through his phone and asking her to “delete everything.” Then, on Jan. 7, he sent another message, stating, “The cops were at my house today, delete everything, make sure everything is deleted.”

On Feb. 12 investigators received a forensics report matching a DNA profile found on a blanket in J.F.V.’s vehicle to a profile obtained from Pett.

At his hearing Tuesday, Pett will be informed of the charges and possible penalties, and be asked to enter a plea.

Pett started teaching at CCDHS in 2008, according to Keith Campbell, superintendent of the Miles City Unified School District.

In an email to the Star, Campbell wrote: “The first weekend of January 2017, I was notified that Mr. Pett was alleged to have had inappropriate communication with a student. I immediately placed Mr. Pett on administrative leave, pending investigation into the allegations. Mr. Pett was never again in front of our students.”

Campbell said the school conducted a thorough investigation, and Pett submitted a letter of resignation on Feb. 9, which was accepted by the school board four days later. The district’s findings were reported to the state Office of Public Instruction on March 24.

“Our staff was extremely quick to respond to the allegations, and I am grateful for all of their hard work to investigate promptly. It was, of course, a horrible situation and I appreciate all of the efforts of the Miles City Police Department, as well. We have an excellent staff and will continue to strive to protect our students,” Campbell wrote.

(Contact Austin Lott at mcstarreporter@gmail.com or 406-234-0450.)

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