A former Sonora church youth minister will stand trial for allegedly engaging in a sexual relationship with a teenage churchgoer for more than two years.
During a preliminary hearing in Tuolumne County Superior Court on Tuesday, Judge James Boscoe ordered that Ember Dawn Schlensker, 28, be held to answer to all 45 felony counts she is charged with. The charges include 30 counts of unlawful sex with a minor — at least one count for each month the alleged relationship occurred.
Schlensker’s next hearing will be held in February, where she will again be formally read the charges and re-enter a plea. A trial date may be confirmed.
The alleged sexual relationship began shortly after Schlensker met the alleged victim — 14 or 15 at the time — at a Santa Cruz-area church camp in summer 2009, Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office Detective Spencer Garrett testified.
She was serving as a youth minister for St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Sonora, where the boy attended services, according to an affidavit filed by prosecutors.
The sexual relationship occurred while Schlensker and her husband were living with the victim and his mother, prosecutors contend.
Garrett said he was not sure if the Schlenskers moved into the home before or after the alleged sexual relationship began.
Garrett also said in his testimony that the boy’s parents were going through a divorce at the time.
Garrett said the relationship continued until the alleged victim left for boarding school in September 2011.
The relationship allegedly continued when he returned home in December, and ended three months later when Schlensker moved to Crescent City, according to court documents.
Defense attorney Mark Borden pointed out in Garrett’s report that the boy allegedly abused Schlensker, fired a gun at her and told authorities in detail how attracted he was to her.
Borden also said the boy has a history of anger issues, and the boarding school he briefly attended was a boot camp.
Prior to boarding school, the alleged victim apparently attended Summerville High School, where he reportedly brought a gun more than once, Borden said.
A warrant for Schlensker’s arrest was issued Sept. 20, following a Tuolumne County Sheriff’s investigation of allegations made by the now 18-year-old victim.
Schlensker posted $50,0000 bail and was released shortly after surrendering herself at Tuolumne County Jail on Oct. 3.
Schlensker will be rearraigned Feb. 11 at 1:30 p.m. in Department 1.
The Union Democrat is now online in a Replica E-edition form and publishes Tuesday through Saturday. E-Edition or Print Plus subscribers have full access.
If you are not a current subscriber, subscribe today for immediate access. Circulation: 209-533-3614
Weekly Arts and entertainment guide for Calaveras and Tuolumne counties