Ex-youth minister to stand trial

By Christina O'Haver, The Union Democrat February 26, 2013 09:29 am

A former Sonora church youth minister will stand trial in June for allegedly engaging in a sexual relationship with a teenage churchgoer for more than two years.

Ember Dawn Schlensker, 28, was re-arraigned in Tuolumne County Superior Court on Monday, following her preliminary hearing last month.

Schlensker again pleaded not guilty to all 45 felony counts she is charged with. 

Judge James Boscoe ordered at the preliminary hearing that she be held to answer to all charges.

The charges include 30 counts of unlawful sex with a minor — at least one count for each month the alleged relationship occurred.

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, Sheriff’s Office Detective Spencer Garrett said in his testimony at the preliminary hearing.

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 said the relationship continued until the alleged victim left for boarding school in September 2011.

They allegedly renewed the relationship when he returned home in December, and ultimately ended it three months later when Schlensker moved to Crescent City, according to court documents.

At the preliminary hearing, 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.

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 $50,000 bail and was released shortly after surrendering herself at Tuolumne County Jail on Oct. 3.

Her trial is scheduled for June 12 at 8 a.m. in Department 2.