Ex-Pastor Sentenced for Sexual Assault

Associated Press, carried in St. Paul Pioneer Press [Minnesota]
November 16, 2006

A former Lutheran pastor has been sentenced to a year in a jail and 10 years of probation for charges stemming from the sexual assault of one of his parishioners.

James Michael Holthus, 52, must also pay a $6,000 fine and $6,219 in restitution. He must complete sex offender treatment and register as a predatory offender. If he violates his probation, he can be sent to prison for 21 months.

Blue Earth County District Judge Kurt Johnson handed down the toughest sentence he could without departing from state guidelines Monday before a packed courtroom of more than 50 people.

"My hope is, now that this matter is taken care of, the healing can begin," Johnson said. "I hope people can move on because that's what needs to be done."

In August, Holthus pleaded guilty to a felony charge of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct. He admitted to sexually touching a man to whom he also was giving religious advice as pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Lake Crystal.

Holthus was originally charged in November 2005 with more serious crimes, including first-degree criminal sexual conduct. Prosecutors then alleged he had touched the same victim multiple times over multiple years, starting when the victim was a teen.


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