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Minnesota pastor faces charges for alleged sexual relationship during counseling

AVON, Minn. -- A central Minnesota pastor faces third-degree criminal sexual conduct charges as authorities are investigating his relationship with a parishioner he was counseling.

Avon police said they received information from a member of the Avon Community Church that the Rev. Charles Norman Pelkey, 49, was having a sexual relationship with another parishioner during ongoing counseling sessions, a release from the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office said. The case was referred to the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office because of a potential conflict of interest. Pelkey also serves as the chaplain for the Avon Police Department.

In 2012, the victim sought out family counseling for a short time, the sheriff’s office said. In November 2017, the victim sought religious and spiritual guidance from Pelkey. While providing counseling, authorities said, Pelkey began a sexual relationship with the victim this past March and continued through May.

Minnesota law prohibits a member of the clergy from engaging in a sexual act with an individual who is seeking advice at or between ongoing counseling sessions. Consent is not a defense, the law states.

Pelkey turned himself in to deputies on Monday, July 30. He has been booked pending a court appearance.

Avon is about 15 miles west of St. Cloud.

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