An Isanti County pastor who participated in a ministry devoted to helping people put their homosexuality behind them has been charged with sexually assaulting two men he was counseling.
Lakeside Christian Church's senior pastor, the Rev. Ryan J. Muehlhauser, 55, of Cambridge, appeared in court Tuesday on eight felony counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct and remains free pending another hearing next month.
Muehlhauser also was a counselor through Robbinsdale-based Outpost Ministries, whose website says it was founded more than 30 years ago to help men and women "break away from gay life" and declares that "all homosexual behavior is sin."
Authorities were informed of the alleged assaults from another Outpost counselor, who said the two men told him what had gone on with Muehlhauser.
According to the criminal complaint:
One of the men told investigators that Muehlhauser "blessed" him by cupping his genitals outside of his clothing several times and that Muehlhauser asked the man to masturbate in front of him for "spiritual strength." Muehlhauser would also fondle the man at times. Their encounters occurred over a period of nearly two years.
Another man told investigators of similar encounters spanning most of this year, adding that Muehlhauser feared he would "lose everything" if anyone found out. At one encounter, Muehlhauser fondled the man and then the two joined the pastor's wife for a dinner outing.
The assaults of the two men occurred at the church, its prayer cabin and at a home belonging to a relative of one of the victims. The criminal complaint made a point to note that "consent by the complainant is not a defense," given Muehlhauser is a clergy member.
Lakeside Christian Church said in a statement that it was "deeply saddened" by the allegations and urged any potential victims to contact authorities.
Neither Muehlhauser nor Outpost Ministries responded to messages seeking a response to the charges.