- Associated Press - Thursday, October 9, 2014

CANTON, S.D. (AP) - Allegations that a former pastor sexually assaulted a teenage girl have shocked members of Canton Lutheran Church, who feel betrayed by a trusted leader.

Tony Haglund is charged with three sex crime counts that allege he had sex with a teenage girl between January 2011 and December 2013 while he was a church pastor. He was arrested earlier this week in Florida, where he was working as a real estate agent. A woman who answered Haglund’s cellphone Wednesday told The Associated Press that he had no comment.

“It was a shock - shock to the community,” church member Kim Wentz told KELO-TV (https://bit.ly/1CXzDgN ). “He baptized two of my children in the church; was a great guy, wonderful pastor.”

The criminal charges against Haglund refer to him as a psychotherapist, a legal term for people in the counseling profession, including members of the clergy.

“This is a case that is somewhat unique, or new to us,” Lincoln County State’s Attorney Tom Wollman said. “In the 14 years that I’ve worked in this office, we’ve never charged this particular statute.”

Church members say part of the healing process for the congregation will involve forgiveness, though it won’t be easy.

“We’re all human and we all make mistakes, but it’s hard to appreciate how someone could betray that trust of a congregation,” Kristin Goodroad said.

Haglund resigned from the church about a year ago when the allegations arose and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America South Dakota Synod asked him to step down. Bishop David Zellmer told the AP that the synod is cooperating with law enforcement.

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Information from: KELO-TV, https://www.keloland.com

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