Rochester, N.Y. – An athletic trainer facing federal charges of child pornography and enticement has been released on bail over strong objections from federal prosecutors.
Austin Pratt, who formerly contracted with the Geneseo Central School District, appeared in federal court Thursday. His victim - now 15 - was in the courtroom with her parents.
Pratt has been placed under the strictest conditions possible and will be confined to his home. He will also be required to wear a GPS ankle bracelet. Any violation, the judge said, would result in him being placed in jail immediately.
Prosecutors allege he raped a 14-year-old student at her home and orchestrated sexual encounters at the school.
“He abused his position of power in the school district,” said prosecutor Melissa Marangola. “...the fact that he went to this victim’s home while she was home sick from school shows that he has a blatant disregard of judgement, and that’s incredibly concerning to the government.”
The sexual relations are alleged to have occurred after the girl's mother took her to the doctor - then dropped her off back at home. Prosecutors said, later in the day, Pratt sent the teen a text: "wish we could replay earlier." Court papers also said that the teen repeatedly stated "we shouldn't be doing this," during the encounter, which occurred January 7, 2019.
Three months earlier, the teen was a member of the cross country team at Geneseo High School. She went to see the school's trainer for physical therapy after injuring her foot. Court papers said their first texts were casual but then escalated to an exchange of photos depicting naked body parts.
It's alleged that by December - instead of engaging in p.t. sessions at the school - Pratt orchestrated a sexual encounter in the closet of the gym. There were others in the stairwell and his office.
Prosecutors say the relationship was discovered when the victim's father discovered the texts. Pratt is also facing charges at the state level, including rape.
In the federal investigation that followed - the FBI said he admitted what happened. "He gave a confession which admitted to engaging in sexual intercourse with the victim at her residence and engaging in obtaining images of sexually explicit conduct," said Marangola.
They said Pratt had also texted other students regarding his activity with the victim.
U.S. Magestrate Jonathon Feldman said the law requires bail as long as other restrictions can be taken to protect the public. In court, he addressed Pratt: "Do you understand what thin ice is? You're on it."
Federal prosecutors said they may try to resolve the case without a trial, to avoid the victim from having to testify.
“They’re strong,” said Marangola about the family. “They’re ready to seek justice for their daughter and they’re ready to go forward with this case.”