A former pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Sleepy Eye, Minn., is facing charges of criminal sexual conduct after he allegedly had sex with an underage intern on multiple occasions.
Witnesses first reported Pastor Nathan Van Alfred Luong to Sleepy Eye police in May of this year, according to a criminal complaint. Around that same time, Faith Lutheran Church in Dodge Center announced Luong as their new pastor, the Christian Post first reported.
“You’ll notice with me that I’m pretty laid back. I like to laugh and joke. I hope that you’ll feel welcomed to stop by and visit my office sometime,” Luong wrote in a church bulletin, which described the alleged sexual predator as a married man with three children.
Witnesses told police that the victim regularly met with Luong for “spiritual guidance” while he was a pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church. He allegedly created an internship for the victim at the church, where the victim had an office space inside Luong’s office.
The pastor allegedly confided in one of the witnesses about his relationship with the victim and told the witness not to “sit on the couch in the youth room” because this was where he had sex with the victim.
This witness also claimed that Luong and the victim exchanged vows and rings in the church sometime in May or June of 2020. The alleged abuse began around October 2019 and lasted into 2020, the complaint says.
Investigators collected DNA samples from the youth-room sofa and matched them to the victim and pastor, according to the complaint.
Luong denied the allegations when speaking with police, the complaint says. However, investigators also spoke with the victim, who said she and Luong had sex “approximately 10 times” while she was an intern at the church, in both the youth room and at Luong’s house. She said she would have been 17-18 years old.
She also told police the pastor bought her a ring that she did not ask for.
“Victim said when Defendant gave it to her, he told her it was a sign that their relationship is real,” the complaint says.
Luong is facing three charges of third-degree criminal sexual conduct. He was booked into Brown County Jail and is now out on $50,000 bond.