A pastor at a central Minnesota church is facing charges after being accused of having a sexual relationship with a parishioner he was counseling.
According to the Stearns County Sheriff's Office, another church member told the Avon Police Department about three weeks ago that Charles Pelkey, pastor of Avon Community Church, was having a sexual relationship with a parishioner.
The sheriff's office said the victim sought religious and spiritual guidance from Pelkey in November 2017. It says Pelkey began a sexual relationship with the victim in March 2018 that continued until May.
During that time, Pelkey continued to provide religious and marital guidance to the victim, the sheriff's office said. State law prohibits a member of the clergy from engaging in sex with someone seeking religious or spiritual advice or while providing ongoing counseling. Consent is not a legal defense.
The case was referred to Stearns County because Pelkey, 49, served as chaplain of the Avon Police Department.
Pelkey was charged in Stearns County District Court with one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct. He turned himself in to authorities on Monday.
Avon is about 15 miles west of St. Cloud.
Your support matters.
You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.