Church Leaders Told about Alleged Abuse

By Brian Voerding
Winona Daily News [Minnesota]
January 31, 2007

The woman who has accused a Winona pastor of having sex with her while providing spiritual counseling turned first to the church for help.

But when she grew unsatisfied with the process, she went to the police instead.

The woman filed a complaint with the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church in September 2006, just less than a year after she cut ties with the Rev. Donald Dean Budd, the 62-year-old pastor of McKinley United Methodist who was charged Monday with 10 felony counts of criminal sexual conduct.

In early November, during the conference's investigation, the woman went to the Winona police, whose subsequent investigation during the following two months led to the charges.

The church complaint was dismissed earlier this month.

The state bishop's office said the investigation was dropped after the woman stopped participating.

Bishop Sally Dyck, who was traveling abroad Tuesday and unavailable for comment, "followed the process to the full extent that we were able to under our church requirements," said Victoria Rebeck, the state conference's director of communications.

"We don't want to make it look like we're blaming the victim here, but we couldn't go forward at that point," Rebeck said.

Rebeck said the conference could re-open an investigation if more evidence is presented but will wait for the court process to play out before deciding.

Budd has been placed on leave, meaning he will not be involved with leadership or worship services, and the conference is in the process of naming a temporary replacement. He will remain on leave until Dyck reviews his case.

The conference is also working out the details for a response team that will come to McKinley United Methodist and offer counseling services for parishioners.

"The first obligation at this point is to our people," Rebeck said.

The Rev. Michael Wuehler, the superintendent of southeast district, said in a brief interview Tuesday that he can't comment on the case until he's seen the charges. He issued a formal statement Tuesday morning on behalf of the state conference that said the church takes the charges "very seriously."

"We want all people to feel safe in our churches," Wuehler wrote. "We hold our clergy and laypeople to high moral standards. During this time we are keeping in prayer all parties involved. We are cooperating with legal authorities and look forward to a just resolution to this situation."

According to the charges, Budd engaged in sexual contact with the woman 10 times between summer 2003 and fall 2005. During that time, he gave her counseling and advice on the death of her grandfather.

Budd will make his first court appearance Feb. 16.

Reporter Brian Voerding can be reached at (507) 453-3514 or at


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