Priest in St. Cloud charged for sexual misconduct with woman he was counseling

The 51-year-old is accused of taking advantage of an already-abused parishioner.
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The 51-year-old is accused of taking advantage of an already-abused parishioner.

A priest in St. Cloud has been charged with sexual misconduct after he inappropriately pursued and slept with a woman he was advising through his church.

Father Anthony Joseph Oelrich, 51, is affiliated with the Newman Center in St. Cloud and is accused of engaging in inappropriate sexual contact with a parishioner between December 2013 and April 2014.

According to the criminal complaint:

– The woman sought his spiritual guidance over a prior relationship in which she had been sexually abused, something she told Oelrich during confession.

– He provided counsel and support, until one day Oelrich removed his penis from his pants in the room from her while she was on the phone to her abusive ex, telling her "she needed something for her hands."

– The woman, who at one point told Oelrich she was suicidal, told him she was scared by what he did, and he responded "he would never have sex with her." She later however described another occasion where he presented his penis in a car with her and told her to touch it.

– He would turn up at her house and lay in bed with her after she told him she was suffering from insomnia. Then, in January 2014, they had sex after she visited the rectory in St. Cloud.

– This intercourse continued until April 2014, during which time she would also see him for confession.

Oelrich has been charged with third degree criminal conduct as a member of the clergy with someone to whom they were providing ongoing advice.

As police investigated, Oelrich admitted during undercover recordings a "boundary violation" with the woman.

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