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West St. Paul pastor accused of affair with teen parishioner

  • Article by: NICOLE NORFLEET
  • Star Tribune
  • September 27, 2012 - 11:43 PM

A West St. Paul pastor was arrested and charged Thursday after he allegedly tried to run away to Mexico with a 16-year-old parishioner with whom he had been accused of having an affair.

Gustaro Resendiz Talabera, 39, was charged with criminal sexual conduct and two counts of deprivation of parental rights, according to the Dakota County Attorney's Office.

According to the criminal complaint, police responded to a West St. Paul home on Sept. 26 on a report of a girl running away with a man. The girl's parents told police that her school had informed them that morning that she wasn't in class and that when the mother called the girl on her cellphone, the girl said she had gone home sick. However, when her parents got home, they discovered the girl wasn't there and that some of her belongings were missing.

Later, the parents were contacted by Talabera's wife, who said she believed her husband and the girl had run away together to Mexico, according to the complaint. The girl eventually texted her parents and asked them not to involve the police "since she wanted to start a new life with Gustaro." A son of Talabera later said his father had told him that day that he was having an affair with a young woman who might be pregnant so they were going to flee to Mexico.

According to the Dakota County Attorney's Office, police were able to track the cellphones of the girl and Talabera to Chicago, where Talabera had relatives. Talabera was arrested Thursday in Joliet, Ill. The extradition process has begun to return him to Minnesota. The girl was taken into protective custody. "We're grateful," Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said about the girl being found safe.

There could be more charges if it is discovered that an affair began before the girl turned 16, Backstrom said. The age of consent in Minnesota is 16, but because Talabera was a pastor at the girl's church, he was in a position of authority, Backstrom said. Backstrom declined to give the name of Talabera's church, fearing it could identify the girl.

Nicole Norfleet • 612-673-449 Twitter: @stribnorfleet

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