A former pastor at a South Dakota church is accused of having sex with a teenage girl while working there.
A federal grand jury in Lincoln County on Monday indicted Tony Haglund, who was a pastor in Canton, on three sex crime counts, including sexual contact with a child under 16 and sexual contact by a psychotherapist. He was arrested later that day in Florida’s Sumter County, where he works as a real estate agent, the Argus Leader reported.
A woman who answered Haglund’s cellphone Wednesday told The Associated Press that he had no comment.
Authorities allege that Haglund had sexual contact with the girl between January 2011 and December 2013, while he was a pastor at Canton Lutheran Church. She was 15 years old when the alleged abuse started.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America South Dakota Synod asked Haglund to resign when the allegations arose, Bishop David Zellmer told the newspaper, and Haglund resigned on Sept. 15, 2013.
“The South Dakota Synod and the ELCA do not tolerate inappropriate sexual behavior of any kind by members of the clergy,” Zellmer said in a statement. “ELCA congregations seek to be safe and welcoming places for all who attend and worship.”
Zellmer declined to tell the AP whether the synod alerted authorities to the allegations but said, “we have cooperated with law enforcement since the beginning and will continue to do so.”
Haglund could face 40 years in prison if convicted. Lincoln County Sheriff Dennis Johnson told the newspaper that Haglund could be brought back to South Dakota in 10 days if he waives extradition from Florida.
Tim Thies, the current pastor at Canton Lutheran Church, declined to comment to the newspaper.