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Pastor pleads innocent to sex charges

A 28-year-old former Sonora church youth pastor accused of engaging in a sexual relationship with a teenage churchgoer for more than three years was arraigned on Tuesday, and her attorney entered a not-guilty plea on her behalf.

Prosecutors are charging the woman with 45 felonies, which include 30 counts of unlawful sex with a minor — at least one count for each month the alleged relationship occurred. 


Ember Dawn Schlensker was scheduled to be arraigned on Oct. 17, but the date was postponed to Nov. 6, after her attorney, Mark Borden, requested the delay and filed a motion asking the court to allow him to appear in her place at the continued hearing. Schlensker was not present at her arraignment Tuesday, according to Borden.

Deputy District Attorney Eric DuTemple Jr. did not argue against Borden’s requests to postpone the arraignment, which were granted by Assigned Superior Court Judge Edward Forstenzer. 

Schlensker attended the Oct. 17 hearing out of custody after posting $50,000 bail and was released shortly after surrendering herself at Tuolumne County Jail on Oct. 3.

A warrant for her arrest was issued Sept. 20, following a Tuolumne County Sheriff’s investigation of allegations made by a now 18-year-old man. He claims he and Schlensker had carried on a secret sexual affair since he was 14. 

An affidavit filed by prosecutors alleges Schlensker met the boy while she was a youth pastor at St. Matthew Lutheran Church.

The document stated they began having sex shortly after he turned 14 and continued after Schlensker and her husband moved into the boy’s residence with his mother.

The relationship ended for a time when the boy was sent to boarding school in September 2011, but continued when he returned in December of that year until Schlensker moved to Crescent City about three months later, according to the court document. 

Schlensker’s preliminary hearing is set for Jan. 15. 

Contact Christina O’Haver at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or 588-4526. 

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