AVON -- An Avon pastor is in Stearns County Jail on 3rd-degree criminal sexual conduct charges due to an illegal relationship with a parishioner who was seeking counseling from him.

According to the Stearns County Sheriff's Office, in mid-July Avon Police contacted them about a sexual assault investigation where they had a potential conflict of interest. Avon's Police got a tip from a parishioner of the Avon Community Church that 49-year-old Charles Pelkey was having a sexual relationship with a parishioner while providing them counseling.

The conflict of interest arose because Pelkey was the Avon Police Chaplain at the time of the initial report.

According to authorities, the victim sought counseling from Pelkey originally in 2012. The counseling started again in November 2017, and in March of this year, Pelkey allegedly started a sexual relationship with the victim. The relationship continued until May.

Minnesota law prohibits clergy from engaging in a sexual act -- with someone being counseled -- during the course of any counseling, by law, consent is not considered a defense.

Pelkey turned himself in to deputies Monday afternoon.

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