A Catholic priest appeared Friday in Clark County Superior Court on suspicion of trying to lure a 14-year-old girl into his car as she was walking home from school through Vancouver’s Image neighborhood.
Michael T. Patrick, 57, of Vancouver was arrested April 2 on a warrant at Los Angeles International Airport when he re-entered the United States after a trip to Australia. He was then extradited to Clark County.
Judge Robert Lewis released Patrick on Friday and ordered him to check into the Clark County Jail’s supervised release program.
Patrick is scheduled to be arraigned May 6 on one charge of felony luring.
He is the pastor of the St. Wenceslaus Parish in Scappoose, Oregon, but keeps a residence in Vancouver. His home is in the Image neighborhood, according to Clark County property records. He has no criminal history.
He appeared Friday with Vancouver attorney Tom Phelan, who said he was making a courtesy appearance. Patrick will need to retain an attorney because he doesn’t qualify for court-appointed counsel.
The teen was walking west on Northeast 28th Street near 138th Avenue on March 10 when she noticed a man looking at her “strangely” from inside a blue 2007 Honda Pilot that was traveling east on 28th Street, according to a court affidavit.
Shortly afterward, she said, she noticed the vehicle pass her again, but this time it was headed west 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 and told her to get inside, Hafer wrote.
“No,” the girl replied, according to the affidavit. She said she then began walking faster. 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 to an in-home day care center on the east side of the street, where she called her mother for advice, Hafer wrote.
Her mother said the girl was crying and sounded frightened. She also was breathing heavily as if she had been running. The girl waited at the residence until the man drove away, then ran home, according to court records.
Vancouver police located Patrick the same day, based on his license plate number. 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 when he allegedly spoke to her. Officers obtained a warrant to search Patrick’s residence and served it when he was not present, according to court records. It’s unclear if he had already left for his trip to Australia.
Under Washington law, it is a Class C felony for a stranger to attempt to lure anyone younger than 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.