ISANTI TOWNSHIP, Minn. - The pastor of a rural Isanti County church is jailed tonight on charges of criminal sexual conduct involving two young men who trusted him as a spiritual advisor.
The Isanti County Sheriff's office received a call Friday reporting that 55-year-old Ryan Jay Muehlhauser, the senior pastor at Lakeside Christian Church in rural Isanti Township, had been engaged in ongoing sexual conduct with the young men. Most of the activity allegedly had taken place at the church.
A criminal complaint says the victims were clients of Outpost Ministries, an organization that assists individuals who feel homosexual tendencies and want to "break away" from the gay lifestyle. The young men were referred to Muehlhauser as a counselor and spiritual guide.
The victims tell investigators that during counseling sessions Muehlhauser would be physical with them, touching their shoulders and legs and giving them hugs. They say that behavior eventually led to sexual touching, kissing and masturbation. One victim told investigators Muehlhauser touched their genitals to "bless" them. Muehlhauser allegedly told the victims that the lord was telling him what to do.
On Sunday one of the victims came to the Isanti County Sheriff's Office and gave a taped statement saying Muehlhauser had been sexually assaulting him for the past four or five months.
Investigators susequently arrested and booked Muehlhauser into jail on charges of fourth degree criminal sexual conduct. Prosecutors say Muehlhauser used his position as a member of the clergy to take advantage of someone who was seeking spiritual advice.
Investigators are still gathering information on the alleged criminal sexual conduct. The Isanti County Attorney's office says it is still waiting for official charges to be signed.
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