FLINT, Mich. – A former dean, teacher, and administrator who worked at schools in Wayne and Genesee counties is suspected of sexually assaulting at least 15 boys and men during a decades-long career, officials said.
The investigation has spanned over “several” decades and centers around Eugene Steven Pratt, 57, of Davison, according to authorities.
Criminal sexual conduct charge
Pratt was arrested Tuesday (Aug. 16) on a charge of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson said Pratt is being held on $25,000 bond and faces a maximum penalty of life in prison, if convicted.
Pratt has worked at an academy in Hamtramck and several schools in Genesee County as a teacher, principal, coach, and administrator, according to authorities.
“I’m not also dismissing that there’s a school district or an unknown (place) in Oakland or Wayne County, Macomb County, that Eugene Pratt was there as a coach, was there as a statistician, was there as a diving instructor, whatever it may be,” Swanson said.
This single criminal sexual conduct charge stems from an incident in 2013, police said.
“An adult, male victim came forward and said, ‘I need to tell my story,’” Swanson said. “We were able to bring that victim in and give them a voice.”
The victim came forward about three months ago, the chief said.
“When this case rolls out, you’ll see that small little pieces that affirm a story are used as variables to allow the prosecutor to write charges,” Swanson said. “When you have statements made, when you have victims that make a consistent statement, when you have facilitation agreements that back up statements, all those elements allow us the opportunity to write a warrant such as criminal sexual conduct in the first degree.”
The Genesee County Sheriff’s Office was brought into the investigation on Feb. 24, 2022, according to Swanson. The sheriff said he got in contact with a family who helped open the door to the investigation.
Those actions ultimately culminated in this charge being filed, but that family is not related to the victim whose 2013 experience directly led to the charge, authorities said.
Swanson said this case has started with one criminal sexual conduct charge, but insists that at least 15 total victims have been identified.
The victims are all men or boys, including young teens, older teens, and people in their early 20s, Swanson said. They were all people Pratt had power over due to the various positions he held, according to police.
“We know that one of them is a victim in this case,” Swanson said. “We also know that four others came from the school district that we just mentioned. We know that three of those five had facilitation agreements, but not all of them are in the same mindset and life position to come forward as our victim No. 1 did. That’s five. The other 10 were part of our continuing investigation that I had mentioned some key phrases and actions that we’ve taken that we believe, and strongly believe, that there are 10 additional students that were under his command that we don’t know names and faces.”
Timeline: Where Pratt worked
Swanson said Pratt graduated from Powers High School in Flint, got his bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, and got his master’s degree at Michigan State University.
He immediately got into student teaching after graduation, Swanson said.
Here’s a timeline of where he worked throughout his career:
- September 1986 to May 1987: Student teacher at Milton E. Tucker Middle School in Flint.
- May 1987 to June 1990: Substitute teacher in the Kearsley Community School District, the Hamady Community School District, and the Grand Blanc Community School District.
- Swanson said Pratt bounced between these three school districts during that timeframe.
- August 1990 to June 1995: Sixth-grade teacher at Armstrong Middle School in Flint.
- August 1995 to June 1999: Fifth-grade teacher at Dowdall Elementary School in Flint.
- August 1999 to October 2005: Guest services worker at the Davison Athletic Club in Davison.
- Pratt took care of staff members and people who visited the athletic club, Swanson said.
- October 2004 to June 2005: Career resource director at Hamady Middle and High School in Flint.
- He would sit down with people and try to help them figure out where their careers could take them, Swanson said.
- October 2006 to June 2013: Principal of Beecher Adult and Alternative Education in Flint.
- October 2013 to June 2015: Dean of students at Caniff Liberty Academy in Hamtramck.
- June 2021 to August 2022: Security/transportation worker at New Paths, Inc. in Flint.
New Paths is a court-ordered addiction center.
“That’s a whole new level of control,” Swanson said. “These are individuals that have the lifetime, many times, fight on their life. They’re trying to renew themselves. They’ve been ordered to go there, and you have somebody with this history as the security and transportation officer -- one-on-one transports.”
When he was a career resource director at Hamady Middle and High School in Flint, many of the people Pratt worked with were from outside his community, Swanson said. They were taken advantage of because of a need that they had, according to the chief.
“These are individuals that had no direction, many times,” Swanson said. “As we get into the court proceedings, you’ll see the type of victims and predators and prey scenario that we had.”
While he was principal at Beecher Adult and Alternative Education in Flint, Pratt could go from introduction to sex act requests in a matter of minutes, according to Swanson.
“While he was there as the principal, and people came to Beecher Adult Ed. to get their lives back, to get jobs, to get GEDs and diplomas -- maybe they were kicked out of another school district and they needed to get their life back on -- there was a procedure that took place that we saw in our investigation that took literally minutes to go from introduction to sex act requests,” Swanson said. “By a principal of education.”
Swanson said Beecher Community Schools didn’t renew Pratt’s contract after 2013, but three victims came forward. Agreements were made between family members, schools, insurance companies, and civil attorneys, and that’s while those cases never turned into major lawsuits, Swanson said.
More on the investigation
Swanson said Wednesday’s charge is thanks to many people who came forward after they noticed things didn’t seem right with Pratt.
“We don’t know when it started, but we do know that it continued over decades,” Swanson said.
Pratt has worked with at-risk elementary students, middle student students, and high school students, according to police.
Officials said he has chaperoned middle school dances, coached junior high swimming and diving for five years, and coached a junior high track team for two years. He also coached varsity high school swimming and diving for seven years and spent 14 years as a statistician for a varsity football team, authorities said.
Swanson said a common denominator in many of these cases is a predator putting themselves in a supervisory position so they have access to victims.
“When you see positions that he held that involve being a principal, school administrator, counselor, GED coordinator, and even after he taught, where he was arrested last week out of New Paths, as a driver, as a transport officer,” Swanson said. “Individuals like Eugene Pratt put themselves in positions of authority over others in order to act on their prey and to find and identify vulnerable people.”
Swanson said Pratt would target underprivileged students and those who had been kicked out of high schools. Many of them were trying to get their GEDs, the chief said.
“As he found students, there was a protocol that he had, up until he was discharged from some of these locations to when he just left because he would be noticed,” Swanson said.
There were three civil facilitation agreements filed against Pratt that didn’t reach the level of lawsuits, Swanson said. Two were settled in 2014 and 2015.
“Of those three -- we’re talking almost 10 years ago -- they do not rise to the level of a criminal investigation,” Swanson said.
The chief said Pratt was able to escape the accountability of investigators for many years.
“Many times, you have school districts and different organizations that want things to go away instead of being held accountable,” Swanson said. “Well, this is the day that he’s held accountable.”
Pratt is married and has children, according to Swanson. The chief said Pratt’s immediate family is “devastated.”
Officials searched Pratt’s home and forensically examined his phone. His car is in custody. So far, authorities haven’t found anything at the house, they said.
Victims can dial 911, call 810-257-3422 at any time (24/7), or reach out to YMCA Flint Victim Advocacy at 810-238-SAFE.