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Clearwater County pastor charged with sex crimes

Scott Morey

BAGLEY -- A Clearwater County pastor is charged with 16 counts of felony criminal sexual conduct for acts that allegedly occurred between 2009 and 2014.

Scott Morey, 42, of Shevlin appeared in Clearwater County Court in Bagley on Friday facing eight first-degree, three second-degree, two third-degree and three fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct charges.

Morey was a pastor at Calvary Lutheran Church in Winger, Immanuel Lutheran Church in Bejou and Our Savior's Lutheran Church in McIntosh. The Rev. Dr. Lawrence Wohlrabe, bishop with Northwestern Minnesota Synod ELCA in Moorhead, said Morey resigned as pastor at the churches Dec. 12. Morey remains on the ELCA clergy roster, but has been asked to cease functioning as a pastor pending the outcome of the court proceedings in Clearwater County.

"I intend to wait for the court process to run its course before we consider how to carry out the ELCA's discipline process in Pastor Morey's situation," Wohlrabe said.

Morey is accused of engaging in sexual contact with three juvenile males. Morey was known to and in a position of authority over his victims, according to charge descriptions in a criminal complaint. The abuse occurred at a Clearwater County residence, according to court documents.

On Oct. 30, one of Morey's alleged victims told a Clearwater County Sheriff's Office deputy that Morey had been sexually abusing him for approximately seven years, according to court documents. The boy would have been about 9 years old when the abuse began.

Law enforcement interviewed two other juvenile males who said they had been sexually abused by Morey between 2009 and 2014. According to court documents, Morey offered his victims money, an iPod and a phone if they engaged in sexual acts with him.

Morey was taken into custody Friday and is being held in the Clearwater County Jail on $800,000 bail. A future court date had not yet been set as of Tuesday afternoon.

First-degree criminal sexual conduct carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $40,000 fine. The maximum penalty for second-degree criminal sexual conduct is 25 years in prison and a $35,000 fine. Third-degree criminal sexual conduct carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a $30,000 fine. The maximum penalty for fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct is 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

Crystal Dey
Crystal Dey covers crime, courts, tribal relations and social issues for The Bemidji Pioneer in Bemidji, Minnesota. Originally from Minnesota’s Iron Range, Dey has worked for the Echo Press in Alexandria, Minnesota, The Forum in Fargo, North Dakota, The Tampa Tribune in Tampa, Florida, the Hartford Courant in Hartford and West Hartford News in West Hartford, Connecticut. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Crystal Dey on Twitter @Crystal_Dey.
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