Pastor charged with sexual assault of exchange student

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 27, 2011 - 9:00 PM

The minister from Gibbon, Minn., is accused of fondling a 16-year-old exchange student staying in his home.

A 52-year-old Lutheran minister has been charged in Sibley County with fondling a high school foreign exchange student as he massaged her while she nodded off in the family's home.

The Rev. David E. Radtke of St. Peter's Lutheran Church in Gibbon, Minn., posted bond Thursday after being jailed and charged with two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Radtke was arrested Monday while working at a Lutheran church in Clyman, Wis., about 50 miles northeast of Madison, and was returned to Minnesota. Assistant County Attorney Don Lannoye said Radtke was not trying to flee prosecution, but was in Wisconsin on business.

"I just can't handle this," the student, a 16-year-old from Madrid, said in a text message to the minister's wife, according to the charges. "What happened is not legal in any place of the world and you know what I mean!"

Radtke, his wife and their son all approached the girl at various times, acknowledged the molestation earlier this month and asked her to forgive him, the charges added.

The girl moved in with the Radtkes in August 2010, upon the departure of an exchange student from Finland, the complaint read.

According to the charges:

The girl told a sheriff's deputy that Radtke gave her back massages once every two weeks or so between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. At times, she would fall asleep.

On May 17, as she lay on the couch, Radtke rubbed her legs until she fell asleep. She awoke to find him molesting her inside her underwear.

The girl said there were other times when she would awaken and "felt a similar feeling," the complaint read.

Lannoye, who is prosecuting Radtke, said that the girl has moved out of the home.

Radtke's congregation is part of the Minnesota South District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. The synod's leadership did not respond to inquiries Friday about Radtke's status with his congregation and the synod.

Radtke, reached by telephone, declined to comment.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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