ST. CLOUD -- A former pastor in Avon has pleaded guilty to having an illegal relationship with a parishioner who was seeking counseling from him.

Fifty-year-old Charles Pelkey pleaded guilty to one count of 3rd-degree criminal sexual conduct.

According to the Stearns County Sheriff's Office, in July 2018 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 Pelkey was having a sexual relationship with a parishioner while providing her counseling.

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

According to the charges, the counseling started in November 2017, and in March 2018, Pelkey started a sexual relationship with the victim. The relationship continued until May when the woman ended it.

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 will be sentenced October 31st.

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