POSTED: Thursday, November 8, 2012 - 11:00pm
UPDATED: Thursday, November 8, 2012 - 11:04pm
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — In Cambridge, Minnesota crime often is something that happens someplace else.
On Sunday night Ryan Jay Muehlhauser, the 55-year-old pastor of Lakeside Christian Church, was arrested and later charged with eight felony counts of criminal sexual conduct.
The allegations are that Pastor Muehlhauser assaulted two men at least eight times while counseling them about their sexual orientation.
"To seek comfort and advice and to help address the pain they were experiencing only to have them experience a more horrific type of pain, sadness," Isanti County Attorney Jeffrey Edblad said of the case his team will prosecute.
Investigators say Victim #1, referred to in charging documents as ABC, told police about the assaults last Friday. The victim claimed he met Muehlhauser two years ago at an event held by Outpost Ministries.
On its website, Outpost ministries says it works with men and women trying to break away from the gay lifestyle.
Victim #1 said in counseling sessions Muehlhauser "blessed" him by cupping his genitals outside of his clothing several times and that Muehlhauser asked the victim to arouse himself in front of him and called it, the victim said, "spiritual strength." The victim also reported that Muehlhauser would have him strip naked for more "spiritual guidance" and have him masturbate while Muehlhauser prayed over him.
These allegations span more than two years time, a fact not lost on Edblad.
"You have a defendant who spends a significant amount of time working with and grooming victims, these are often cases that take place over a period of months and years. They don't happen in a vacuum," Edblad said.
Victim #2, referred to as XYZ in court papers, reported similar activities and said that Muehlhauser told him if people found out about any of it they would "lose everything."
Muehlhauser is not in custody and did not wish to comment on the allegations.