Former youth pastor charged

By Alex MacLean, The Union Democrat

A former Sonora church youth pastor is accused of having a multi-year sexual relationship with a young teen.

The District Attorney's Office has charged Ember Dawn Schlensker, 28, of Crescent City, with 45 felonies, including 30 counts of unlawful sex with a minor.

The criminal complaint alleges Schlensker carried on the relationship from August 2009 to March of this year.

She surrendered Oct. 3 at Tuolumne County Jail. She posted $50,000 bail and was released the same day, court records show.

Arraignment is scheduled Wednesday in the Tuolumne County Superior Court.

An affidavit in support of an arrest warrant filed by Assistant District Attorney John Hansen summarizes a 144-page investigative report completed by Tuolumne County Sheriff's detectives and deputies.

According to the court document, a now 18-year-old man, identified only as "John Doe," told law enforcement officials he met Schlensker when she worked as a youth pastor at St. Matthew Lutheran Church around 2007 or 2008.

The two began a sexual relationship when the boy turned 14 in August 2008, the document alleged. Court records showed Schlensker would have been 24 at the time.

Around that same time, Schlensker and her husband moved into the residence of the alleged victim and his mother, and the relationship continued until the boy was sent to boarding school in Missouri in September 2011, the affidavit alleged.

The alleged relationship started up again upon his return to the Sonora area in December 2011 and continued until Schlensker and her husband moved to Crescent City in March 2012, according to court records.

A warrant for Schlensker's arrest was issued on Sept. 20, a week after formal charges were filed by the Tuolumne County District Attorney's Office.

Hansen said at least some of the suspected misconduct is believed to have happened while Schlensker was a youth pastor at St. Matthew.

He said Schlensker no longer works there, but was not sure of the circumstances of her leaving.

Vern Smith, president of the St. Matthew Lutheran Church Council, declined to answer questions in a phone call Thursday.

"I have no comment because we need to let the judicial process take its course," he said.

The Union Democrat
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