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St. Cloud priest arrested on accusations of sexual misconduct

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The Rev. Anthony Oelrich, who serves in the Diocese of St. Cloud
The Rev. Anthony Oelrich, who serves in the Diocese of St. Cloud.
Courtesy of Stearns County Sheriff's Office

A priest who serves in the Diocese of St. Cloud has been charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct for having an intimate relationship with a woman he was counseling.

The criminal complaint filed Wednesday against The Rev. Anthony Oelrich says a woman approached St. Cloud police in December to complain about the priest. Investigators said the victim, an adult woman, had talked to Oelrich during confession in 2013 about a prior relationship, which included sexual abuse. She told police the priest consoled her and was with her when her previous abuser contacted her by phone, and that Oelrich exposed himself to her during the call.

She later told police that Oelrich would come to her home and sleep with her, and that he later invited her to a St. Cloud rectory, where he asked her to stay the night and have sex with him. The woman said the relationship continued until April of 2014, and the priest continued to take her confession during that time period. The complaint also says Oelrich was secretly recorded admitting to a "boundary violation" with the woman and not denying he'd had sex with her.

Oelrich had recently been pastor at Christ Church Newman Center, near the St. Cloud State University campus. St. Cloud Diocese Bishop Donald Kettler placed Oelrich on administrative leave and suspended him from acting as a priest pending the outcome of his case.

Oelrich has also served at Sacred Heart Parish in Sauk Rapids and the Cathedral of St. Mary in St. Cloud.