A former Eagan pastor was charged this week with a dozen felony counts of criminal sexual conduct involving two women who were parishioners.
Bruce Douglas Konold, 61, was the lead pastor at Eagan Hills Church from 1997 until his resignation in February, and the alleged sexual misconduct occurred between June 2020 and January 2021, according to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday.
Minnesota law says it’s a felony for members of the clergy to have a sexual relationship with a person they are counseling or to whom they are providing spiritual advice.
According to the criminal complaint:
A 20-year-old woman told police in March that Konold fondled her at his home last year and it led to numerous sexual encounters, which occurred at his home, the church, hotels and in his vehicle.
She said she began attending the church in January 2021. She said the next month Konold told her she needed a father figure and began providing her with spiritual counseling and guidance on a regular basis.
During a break from college, she said Konold suggested that she stay at his home. One day, Konold gave her several alcoholic drinks — she was not of legal age to drink — and she felt foggy and had difficulty walking. She said he then touched her genitals above her clothing and tried to remove her clothes several times before she pushed him away.
Konold began sending the woman sexual messages regularly and suggested she move into his home at the end of her school year. He got her a cleaning job at the church.
The sexual acts began in May 2021 and continued until the end of the year. She described to police how she had “conflicting emotions about the incidents, explaining that there were certain incidents that didn’t feel consensual,” the complaint read.
She said Konold’s wife approached her in December 2021 and told her “to never show her face again at the church and to disappear completely,” according to the complaint.
Police also spoke with a 30-year-old woman in March who said she and her husband attended Konold’s church for about 10 years and that in 2020 he offered her a personal assistant job at the church. She told police that Konold then began pressuring her for sex, pleaded with her not to leave the church or tell the church elders, and also made suicidal comments after she would reject him.
Konold told the woman “she was selfish because he had been meeting her emotional needs, but she was refusing to meet his needs,” the complaint read.
She said Konold first fondled her at his home in June 2020 and she agreed to have sex with him at a hotel in November 2020 after he promised to leave her alone afterward. It later led to numerous sexual encounters, which occurred at his home, her home, a hotel and in his vehicle in places near the church and Lebanon Hills Regional Park.
During the time of the sexual acts, which continued until January 2021, the woman continued to regularly meet with Konold for one-on-one spiritual counseling and guidance.
WHAT KONOLD TOLD POLICE
In a March interview with police, Konold said he had sexual relations with the woman about 15 times. He expressed concerns about the church supporting her mission work, saying that “it was not right that they continue to support an adulteress,” the complaint read. He “quoted a bible verse regarding adulterous women being ‘stoned.’”
Konold described his relationship with the 20-year-old woman as “another adulterous relationship,” the complaint said.
Konold did not directly answer the question from an investigator of whether he considered her as someone seeking spiritual counseling, but said she thought of him as a father figure and “explained that his conversations are spiritual given that he is considered one of the foremost experts in world religions,” according to the complaint.
In early April, the 20-year-old left police a message saying that she had felt pressured to come forward and was no longer sure about whether she had been sexually abused. Later that month, her pastor contacted police and reported that Konold had been aggressively pursuing the woman by showing up at her home, work and school and used threats of suicide to “manipulate her into continuing a sexual relationship,” the charges read.
She later told police that Konold had been harassing her after learning about the police report. She described an incident where he approached her car and asked why she wanted him to go to jail and said he had lost everything. He told her that she could tell police that it wasn’t abuse.
Konold is charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct and two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct. He’s also been charged with one count of harassment involving the woman he allegedly talked to after he learned she spoke with police.
County records show Konold and his wife sold their Eagan home in June. His attorney couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Friday.
He was arrested Friday and made his first court appearance.
Eagan Hills Church, located at 700 Diffley Road, is affiliated with the Christian and Missionary Alliance, an evangelical Christian denomination.