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Former West St. Paul pastor who ran away with 16-year-old pleads guilty

  • May 15, 2013 - 12:05 AM

A former West St. Paul pastor who tried to run away to Mexico with a 16-year-old girl with whom he was having an affair pleaded guilty Tuesday to third-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Gustavo Resendiz Talabera, 39, was sentenced to five years in prison by Dakota County District Judge David L. Knutson and will be on conditional release for another 10 years. He was given credit for the 224 days he has already spent in custody.

Talabera disappeared with the girl on Sept. 26, 2012. The girl’s parents called police to their West St. Paul home that day after learning that she wasn’t in school. When the mother called the girl on her cellphone, the girl said she had gone home sick. But when the parents got home, they discovered the girl wasn’t there and some of her belongings were missing.

Later, Talabera’s wife contacted the parents and said she believed that her husband and the girl had run away together to Mexico, according to court documents. The girl eventually texted her parents and asked them not to involve the police “since she wanted to start a new life with Gustavo.”

Talabera’s son later said his father had told him that day that he was having an affair with a young woman who might be pregnant and they were going to flee to Mexico.

Police tracked the cellphones of the girl and Talabera to Chicago, and Talabera was arrested in Joliet, Ill.

Although the age of consent in Minnesota is 16, Talabera was charged because he was a pastor of the girl’s church and was in a position of authority over her.

On Tuesday, the judge ordered Talabera to pay restitution to the girl and her parents out of his prison wages and ordered him to register as a predatory offender.

Pat Pheifer

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