A pastor who tried to ‘cure’ gay people has appeared in court, charged with sexually assaulting two of the men he was ‘counseling’.
Reverend Ryan J Muehlhauser, aged 55, of Cambridge, Isanti County, Minnesota, US, is accused of eight felony counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct.
The charges relate to two young men he was apparently molested over a period of two years.
As well as being senior pastor at Lakeside Christian Church, Muehlhauser was a counselor of Robbinsdale-based Outpost Ministries, whose website says it was founded more than 30 years ago to help men and women ‘break away from gay life’.
Attempts to ‘cure’ homosexuality have been labeled as misguided and dangerous by psychiatrists and the World Health Organization in North America.
The two alleged victims Muehlhauser was trying to ‘cure’ of homosexuality, were allegedly fondled by the pastor as well as being asked to masturbate for him.
One claims Muehlhauser ‘blessed’ him by cupping his genitals outside his clothing and says the pastor asked him to masturbate in front of him for ‘spiritual strength’, the local Star Tribune reports. The abuse continued for two years.
The other man says he was fondled over most of this year but Muehlhauser was worried he would ‘lose everything’ if his secret was discovered.
The two men went to another Outpost counselor about the abuse who in turn reported it to the authorities.
Muehlhauser appeared in court this week but remains free awaiting another hearing next month.
Isanti County assistant attorney Stacy St George, told the court: ‘There is nothing more predatory than taking two individuals whose faith and whose trust is put into their minister and their spiritual leader and then abusing them in the name of the Lord.’
Outpost Ministry’s website states: ‘The Father's great desire for those struggling with same-sex attractions and other sexual and relational brokenness motivated him to send his one and only son Jesus to be the way out of slavery to sin.
‘There is freedom from homosexuality, addictions, despair.’
Lakeside Christian Church has said it is ‘deeply saddened’ by the allegations and urged other potential victims to contact the authorities.
If guilty, the pastor faces up to 10 years in jail for each charge and a fine.