PROVO — Facing the possibility of spending 15 years in prison, accused of molesting more than a dozen children, a former American Fork elementary school teacher and coach says he is struggling with his pedophilia, which has left his public and personal life in ruin.
In a letter to 4th District Judge Lynn Davis, 45-year-old Brent Whitlock said he is filled with shame and guilt and has learned a great deal about his "critical thinking errors."
Whitlock, who was scheduled to be sentenced last Monday on two counts of child sex abuse, remains at the Utah State Prison, where he is undergoing a psycho-sexual evaluation. He is expected to be sentenced Oct. 1.
Whitlock states he is responsible for preventing himself from re-offending and to make the "lifestyle" changes that will eliminate his access to children.
"You can't fall over the cliff if you don't get too close to the edge. I can never allow myself to get too close to the edge," Whitlock wrote.
But prosecutors allege Whitlock, who worked 20 years as a physical education and music teacher at Shelly Elementary School, spent almost two decades over that edge, molesting young boys between the ages of 10 and 17 — many of whom were students or children he coached on softball teams.
Utah County deputy prosecutor Sherry Ragan said investigators believe Whitlock may have molested young boys in American Fork as far back as 1978. But because many of those incidents occurred outside the statute of limitations, Whitlock could only be charged with the more recent events, Ragan said.
According to American Fork police, the case came to light earlier this year when two boys went to police to report being repeatedly molested.
Ragan said when Whitlock spoke to police he reportedly confessed to 23 years of abusing children he was entrusted to teach, coach and care for.
"He came down and pretty much confessed," Ragan said. "But I don't know how much of that counts for 23 years of abuse."
In his letter, Whitlock asked Davis to sentence him to a halfway house with intense therapy or two years in the county jail, pointing out that he has cooperated fully with police and that he has no criminal history of drugs, alcohol or violence.
Yet, according to the state's pre-sentence report, Ragan said all arrows point toward prison. The latest evaluation, she said, will determine if he should be placed in a sex offender therapy program within the prison.
"I've lost everything — the profession I loved, my membership in my church, and the respect of the community. I have disgraced my family and betrayed my dear wife. And now, I have lost my freedom," Whitlock wrote, adding he is left with strong support from friends and family.
Ragan said she is surprised that there has been little outrage being expressed by the American Fork community, adding those who do show up in court are mainly in support of Whitlock.