MILES CITY – A former Custer County High School science teacher was booked into jail Tuesday on suspicion of multiple sexual encounters with a 15-year-old female student over a month’s time in December 2016 and attempting to conceal evidence.
Morgan Pett, 38, was charged with six counts of sexual intercourse without consent, one count of sexual abuse of children and one count of tampering with evidence, according to charging documents filed in April in Custer County District Court.
A Custer County jail worker said Pett was extradited on a warrant from Alaska, where he was working after he left his teaching job last year.
MTN News was not immediately able to confirm when Pett left his teaching job. A message was left with the Custer County School District Tuesday afternoon, and we will update with further comments if the district responds.
Pett is being held in the Custer County Detention Center on $500,000 bail. He faces a maximum of life in prison and a minimum of four years per charge for sexual intercourse without consent, four years for sexual abuse of children and 10 years for tampering with evidence.
The victim told authorities she met Pett six times for sexual contact, including intercourse, between Dec. 11, 2016 and Jan. 3, 2017, according to documents. The meetings included during a dog walk at Pirogue Island, in both of their vehicles, in his home and in a guest bedroom in her home, prosecutors allege.
They stopped after Pett’s wife discovered nude photos on his computer and alerted police, according to charging documents. On Jan. 4, 2017, Pett allegedly texted the girl and asked her to delete all messages and photos
Pett’s wife told authorities the former teacher said the girl had sent him the nude photos of herself. They had exchanged messages through a private messaging app called Wickr, which allows pictures and messages to disappear within 10 minutes.
In an April 2017 interview with police, the girl said Pett had asked her to send the nude photos, according to court documents. She said the two began a relationship in the fall of 2016 and began texting each other daily.
Prosecutors said they received a forensic report Feb. 12, 2018, indicating a DNA match from the girl’s vehicle with a sample from Pett.
Pett started as a teacher in Miles City in 2008, according to Montana PBS, which featured him in a 2013 story about climate-change debates in Montana. He also coached the school’s Science Bowl team.