UPDATE: Former The River church youth minister charged with six sex crimes Friday

Olean Times Herald [Olean NY]

January 21, 2022

By Laura Fitzgerald

A former youth minister at The River church was charged with six sex crimes Friday.  

William Stefan Wahl, 28, of Port Huron man, was arraigned Friday on two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct victim younger than 13, two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct victim between 13 and 16, distributing obscene matter to children, aggravated indecent exposure and using computers to commit a crime.

His bond was set at $25,000 cash/surety.

Wahl is accused of sexually abusing four juvenile victims that he fostered a relationship with through The River, St. Clair County Sheriff Mat King said. King identified Wahl as a former youth minister at the church. 

King said Friday morning the man was arrested around midnight at a residence in the 1500 block of Palmer Court.

Stephen Rabaut, Wahl’s attorney, said Wahl intended to turn himself in for his arraignment. The police investigation was initiated in November 2021. 

St. Clair County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Cailin Wilson said the alleged incidents took place between 2014 and 2021, when Wahl was over 17 years old and with victims ranging from 10 to 17 years old. 

In response to the allegations, Bill Wahl, co-lead pastor of The River church, sent a press release dated Nov. 2, 2021, that stated The River Churches Board of Elders were made aware of a possible child abuse incident perpetrated by an employee against two minors. 

The board immediately began an investigation of the facts, assuring that all involved parents were notified. Within hours, the employee was terminated and the board filed a report with the proper authorities to investigate the matter, the press release said. 

The River Ministry Center is currently based in Kimball, according to its website. 

He is scheduled for a probable cause hearing at 9 a.m. Feb. 1 and an examination hearing at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 8 in front of St. Clair County District Court Judge Mona Armstrong.

King said it’s possible that there may be other victims in relation to Wahl that have not yet come forward. Anyone who believes they may have been a victim should contact St. Clair County Sheriff Det. Kelsey Wade at (810) 987-1738.