Vancouver priest faces luring allegation

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

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A Catholic priest is accused of luring a 14-year-old girl as she was walking home from school through Vancouver’s Image neighborhood.

Michael T. Patrick, 57, of Vancouver was arrested April 2 at Los Angeles International Airport as he was trying to re-enter the United States after a trip to Australia, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Patrick is the pastor of St. Wenceslaus Parish in Scappoose, Ore., but keeps a residence in Vancouver, according to the Catholic Sentinel, a newspaper which serves the Archdiocese of Portland. His home is in the Image neighborhood, according to Clark County court documents and property records.

He has not yet been extradited to Clark County, said Vancouver police spokeswoman Kim Kapp. He faces one count of luring, a class C felony, according to court records.

The 14-year-old girl was walking westbound on Northeast 28th Street near the intersection of Northeast 138th Avenue March 10 when she noticed a man looking at her “strangely” from inside a blue 2007 Honda Pilot, which was traveling eastbound on Northeast 28th Street, according to a court affidavit.

Shortly afterward, she said she noticed the vehicle pass her again, but this time it was headed westbound on the street, Vancouver police Detective Jason Hafer wrote in the affidavit. The vehicle pulled over in the bike lane, and the driver opened the window to his vehicle and told her to get inside the vehicle, Hafer wrote.

“No,” the girl replied, according to the affidavit. She said she then began walking at a faster pace.

The man drove alongside her, asking her several more times if she wanted a ride, and she declined each time, Hafer wrote. He allegedly continued to follow her as she turned north on Northeast 132nd Avenue.

At one point, he said, “Come on, cutie,” according to the affidavit.

The girl was alarmed and ran up to an in-home day care center on the east side of the avenue, where she called her mother to seek advice, Hafer wrote.

Her mother said she was crying and sounded frightened. She also was breathing heavily as if she had been running, the mother said.

She waited at the residence until the man drove away and then ran home, according to court records.

Vancouver police were able to locate Patrick the same day based on a report of his license plate number, and Patrick denied the accusations, court records say. Police then brought the girl to the front of Patrick’s residence, and she identified him as the man who had attempted to lure her, according to the court records. She said he was still in the clothes he had worn earlier.

Officers obtained a warrant to search Patrick’s residence and served it when he was not present, according to court records. It’s unclear whether he had already left town for his trip to Australia.

Under Washington law, it is a class C felony for a stranger to attempt to lure anyone under the age of 16 into any area out of public view or into a motor vehicle without the consent of the minor’s parent, unless the defendant proves his actions were reasonable under the circumstances and he did not intend to harm the health, safety, or welfare of the minor.