A Catholic priest entered a guilty plea Friday, court records show, to trying to lure a 14-year-old girl into his car as she was walking home from school in Vancouver’s Image neighborhood.
Michael T. Patrick, 59, the former pastor of St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church in Scappoose, Ore., entered the plea in Clark County Superior Court to attempted luring but did not admit to the conduct. Patrick initially faced a charge of luring in connection with the 2014 incident.
David Renshaw, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Portland, said Tuesday that Patrick is not assigned to a parish and has not been since his arrest. Renshaw said Patrick’s status will not change until the Archdiocese has completed its investigation.
Patrick will be sentenced May 23 in Superior Court. He could face up to a year behind bars and two years’ probation. However, the prosecution will recommend that he serve six months in jail and a year of probation, court records show. The defense is free to argue for a lesser sentence.
According to a probable cause affidavit filed in Superior Court, the teen was walking west on Northeast 28th Street near 138th Avenue on March 10, 2014, when she noticed a man looking at her “strangely” from inside a blue 2007 Honda Pilot that was traveling east on 28th Street.
A short time later, the girl said the vehicle passed her again, but this time it was headed west on the street. The vehicle then pulled over in the bike lane, and the driver opened the window and told her to get inside, the affidavit said.
She told the driver “no” and began walking faster. The man, later identified by police as Patrick, drove alongside her, asking her several more times if she wanted a ride, according to court records. She declined each time. Patrick continued to follow her as she turned north on Northeast 132nd Avenue, court records said.
Patrick allegedly said, “Come on, cutie,” which alarmed the girl and prompted her to run to an in-home day care center on the east side of the street, according to court documents. There, she called her mother for advice.
Her mother said the girl was crying and sounded frightened. The girl waited at the residence until the man drove away, then ran home, the affidavit said.
Vancouver police located Patrick the same day, based on his license plate number. He denied the accusations.
Police then brought the girl to the front of his Vancouver residence, and she identified him as the man who had attempted to lure her, according to court records. She said he was still in the clothes he had worn earlier when he spoke to her.
Patrick was arrested April 2, 2014, 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.