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Former Lutheran Pastor Pleads Not Guilty to Abusing Abuse Victim He Counseled

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Steven Woyen, a former pastor and church musician in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America who worked in Ohio, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa, pled not guilty this week to sexual battery charges that date back to 2008-2011 when he was pastor of First Lutheran Church of Strasburg, Ohio. He was jailed after being extradited from Minnesota, and bail was set at $50,000.

The Tuscarawas County, Ohio, assistant prosecutor claims Woyen abused a girl for three years after she had come to see him for counseling related to childhood sexual abuse.

“For three years, he engaged in touching of erogenous zones and sexual intercourse when she was a minor,” said Kristine Beard. “He was in a position of authority over her, being the pastor. It happened in the church pastor office. It happened in the parsonage.”

The victim, now an adult, was receiving counseling when she disclosed the alleged abuse by Woyen, who later acknowledged the offense and resigned from the ministry.

“She text-messaged him and he begged for her forgiveness,” Beard said.

The victim also messaged the church administrator where Woyen was employed at the time, and the administrator reported it to authorities, initiating the investigation.

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Steve Rabey

Steve Rabey is a veteran author and journalist who has published more than 50 books and 2,000 articles about religion, spirituality, and culture. He was an instructor at Fuller and Denver seminaries and the U.S. Air Force Academy. He and his wife Lois live in Colorado.