'Traveling Minister' Sentenced for Sexual Misconduct

By Erin Klegstad
Alexandria Echo Press
December 19, 2007§ion=news&freebie_check&CFID=75822461&CFTOKEN=10578631&jsessionid=8830f74fcdfb7e76537f

A "traveling minister" was sentenced Friday in Douglas County District Court to 90 months in state prison.

Timothy Knut Severud, 42, pleaded guilty to first-degree criminal sexual conduct for molesting a 10-year-old Alexandria area girl.

Judge Peter Irvine also ordered Severud to register as a sex offender and serve a 10-year conditional release period after his prison term.

As a member of the "church with no name," Severud stayed with families throughout the Midwest while traveling from place to place.

He stayed with the victim's family numerous times during the past several years, said the victim's father in the criminal complaint.

Tim Severud

"Oddly enough, I had never heard of this sect of Christianity until this case," said Douglas County Attorney Chris Karpan, adding that members are low-key and don't have homes or churches.

During the sentencing, the girl's father read a "very poignant, well-written" statement, Karpan said; many of the 30 to 40 people in the courtroom were choked up.

Law enforcement officials are continuing to investigate Severud and all of the families he has stayed with to ensure there are no other victims, Karpan said.

Here's what happened in this incident, according to the criminal complaint.

On July 23, the girl's parents returned home from the grocery store and didn't see her or their 6-year-old daughter. When the father went into the girls' room, he found Severud on top of his 10-year-old daughter, who was lying on her back, fully clothed, with her legs spread.

Severud was "gyrating…his pelvis juxtaposed over hers" while holding her hands back.

Upon confrontation from the girl's parents, Severud blamed the girls, saying they had been inappropriate with him, adding "there had been inappropriate behavior between him and the girls for quite some time."

In a phone conversation the following day, Severud told the girls' mother "the children had masturbated him."

Severud turned himself in at the law enforcement center on July 27 and admitted inappropriate behavior between him and both girls about six times while he stayed with the family.

He said he "let the kids have their way with him" and that he "fell for a 10-year-old girl."

Sergeant Jackie Notch interviewed both girls on July 27. The 10-year-old girl recounted several incidents of Severud inappropriately touching her, including the July 23 incident. When she had a hard time verbally telling of the abuse, Notch had her demonstrate using anatomically correct dolls.

The girl also said Severud inappropriately touched her several times while swimming together.

In a separate interview, the 6-year-old girl told Notch that Severud hadn't touched her, but had touched her sister's "privates."

About the sect

Members of the "church with no name" refer to each other as friends, saints or truthers; ministers are referred to as workers, servants or laborers.

They are often called "Two by Twos" because of their tradition of sending pairs of missionaries to evangelize. Their ministers have officially registered the group with various government agencies under the name "the Christian Conventions" in the U.S.

The church was founded around 1897-1899 by William Irvine in Ireland. Today, membership is estimated at between 250,000 and 600,000 worldwide.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.