Local pastor pleads guilty to criminal sexual conduct

Ryan Jay Muehlhauser
Ryan Jay Muehlhauser

An Isanti County pastor who had been serving the community for over 20 years pleaded guilty to engaging in sexual contact with two adult males seeking spiritual counsel last year.

Ryan Jay Muehlhauser, 55, of Cambridge, was charged in Isanti County District Court in Cambridge in November 2012 with eight counts of felony, 4th degree criminal sexual conduct.

On Thursday, Feb. 28, before Judge P. Hunter Anderson, Muehlhauser pleaded guilty to two of those events.

Under the plea agreement reached between Muehlhauser’s attorney, Sherwood McKinnis, and Isanti County Assistant Attorney Stacy St George, Muehlhauser will serve 160 days in the Isanti County Jail, remain on supervised probation for 10 years and register as a sexual offender, with the condition the other six counts are dismissed.

A prison sentence of 18 months was stayed, meaning if Muehlhauser violates any conditions of his probation, he will be ordered to serve the 18 months. St George explained under state sentencing guidelines, a prison sentence can’t be ordered for 4th degree criminal sexual conduct.

Judge Anderson ordered a pre-sentence investigation and a psychosexual evaluation to be completed prior to Muehlhauser’s sentencing scheduled for Thursday, May 30.

Muehlhauser had been serving as senior pastor at Lakeside Christian Church in Cambridge since January 2012. Prior to that he served as the church’s associate pastor for 22 years.

Under questioning by St George on Feb. 28, Muehlhauser admitted to sexual contact with two adult males.

He admitted the sexual contact with one of the victim’s took place throughout October 2012 inside the prayer cabin located on the church property while he was providing spiritual advice in his role as pastor. He admitted to placing his hands on the victim’s genital area, and suggesting the victim fondle himself.

St George also questioned Muehlhauser about the sexual contact with the second victim that occurred from March 1, 2012 through Nov. 4, 2012. He admitted to feeling the victim’s genital area and calling the sexual encounters “blessings.”

When St George asked Muehlhauser if he committed these acts for his own sexual gratification, he said, “Yes.”

The relations at issue surfaced when a counselor with Outpost Ministries — a group that assists individuals who “want to break away from the gay life,” according to its website — reported that two young men he was counseling advised him of sexual activity between them and Muehlhauser.