Minnesota Pastor Accused of Sexually Assaulting Teen who was Seeking Spiritual Guidance at Church

A pastor is facing charges of criminal sexual conduct for having a sexual relationship with a teen member of his southern Minnesota church who went to the pastor for spiritual guidance.

Nathan Van Alfred Luong, 36, of Rochester, is charged with three counts, including a count of criminal sexual conduct during a religious advice meeting.

Congregation Members Had Raised Concerns About Luong's Close Relationship with Teen

Nathan Van Alfred Luong
Nathan Van Alfred Luong Facebook

Luong was charged Friday with sexual misconduct after two reports were received by the Sleepy Eye Police Department. One of the reporters said Luong had admitted to them that he had a sexual relationship with the teen at Trinity Lutheran Church.

The witness, who had gone to Luong for faith counseling as well, told police that Luong had admitted to sexual encounters with the minor on sexual occasions, including at the church and on a youth trip to Montana, and occurred between October 2019 and February 2020 -- when the victim was 17.

Another witness reported that some members of the congregation had raised concerns about Luong's close relationship with the victim.

Sample from Church Sofa Contained Luong's Sperm Cells, Victim's DNA

When police acted on the tips in May 2022, Luong denied that he had a sexual relationship with the victim. At that time, investigators seized a sofa cover from the church for DNA testing, along with a sample from Luong.

In October, DNA results from the cover came back with sperm cells that matched Luong, police say. Test also found DNA belonging to a female. Police got a warrant to test the victim's DNA, which ultimately came back as a match to the female's DNA profile.

Speaking with police when they went for the DNA sample, the victim told investigators she had multiple sexual encounters with Luong when she was 17 and 18 at the church and at Luong's home.

Luong was booked into Brown County Jail on Friday for the charges. He is set to return to court on December 23. He left Trinity Lutheran in February 2021 and most recently has been serving as pastor at Faith Lutheran Church in Dodge Center.

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