Watertown Pastor Faces New Charges

July 14, 2008,71838

[with video]

The Watertown pastor accused of inappropriately touching a young boy in Minnesota faces new charges.

KELOLAND News learned Monday afternoon, the Codington County States Attorney filed charges against 67-year-old Dennis Hayes.

Hayes faces five counts of child pornography in Watertown after police searched the pastor's home and took his computer and several computer disks and CD's. Investigators found five pictures on Hayes' computer containing child porn. Those charges are on top of the three counts of sexual contact with a minor Hayes faces in Rock County, Minnesota. Hayes made his first court appearance on those charges in Luverne Monday.

Hayes is being accused of touching a young Minnesota boy, who says he looked up to the Watertown pastor as a father figure. Court papers out of Minnesota say that Hayes was hugging the young boy when his had went into the boy's pants and touched his buttocks for a few seconds. And because Hayes is an authority figure, it makes the case and the charges more serious.

Dennis Hayes said he couldn't talk about the charges he faces in Rock County, Minnesota.

In the courthouse Hayes met with his attorney for the first time Monday. The Watertown pastor has hired an attorney from the Twin Cities who says he will talk about the case at a later time.

After court the assistant Rock County attorney did talk about the seriousness of the charges Hayes faces because the 67-year-old is a pastor and was an authority figure to the boy. Minnesota has a special set of charges for people in authority.

Assistant Rock County Attorney Jeffery Haubrich says, "The statute is there because of the unique relationship that a clergy person has with someone that they're counseling. The possibilities for abuse there because of the level of trust and that."

Another hearing has been set in this case in Rock county in September. It's a case the county attorney says is a sad situation.

Ben Dunsmoor: Is it sad when people in authority take advantage of people under them?

Haubrich: It's sad when anybody takes advantage of anybody.

Hayes will be in Codington county Tuesday morning to make his first court appearance on the child pornography charges filed Monday.


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