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Former pastor accused of repeated child sex assault

The assaults reportedly took place at the man's cabin in the town of Summit.

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Douglas County Circuit Court, Superior, Wisconsin. Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram
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SUPERIOR — A Burnett County man accused of sexually assaulting a child at his cabin in the town of Summit while he was a church pastor has been arrested by the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.

Jeffrey Anthony Charles, 61, of Danbury, faces one count of repeated sexual assault of a child, persistent repeater, for alleged incidents that took place between 2005 and 2010. An initial appearance had not been set for Charles as of Tuesday, May 17.

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Jeffrey Charles
Contributed / Douglas County Sheriff's Office

The Danbury man was serving as the pastor of the Neighbors to Nations church in Princeton, Minnesota, during the time of the assaults, according to the criminal complaint. Parishioners routinely traveled to Charles’ cabin in Summit to serve him.

The victim reported being sexually assaulted multiple times at the cabin between the ages of 3 and 7. She told Detective Mike Miller with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office that Charles took her alone into his cabin to assault her, but other girls from the church and their families were present on the property.

Charles had the victim call him “daddy Charles” and told her she was his daughter, according to the criminal complaint. She told Miller there was a group of girls that Charles treated special but she was younger and closer to him. People would tell her she should be thankful to be his favorite, the victim reported.

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The former pastor was convicted of third-degree sexual abuse in 1997 in the state of Iowa, according to the criminal complaint. The statute under which Charles was convicted requires proof that the defendant committed a sex act with another person who was 12 or 13 years of age.

The Douglas County case against Charles was the result of an investigation by the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office with assistance from the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation.

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul thanked Fruehauf for his continued partnership with the Clergy and Faith Leader Abuse Initiative and the work the Douglas County office has done to seek justice in this case.

“We are committed to holding perpetrators of sexual assault accountable,” Kaul said.

Survivors of clergy or faith leader abuse, their friends and family, or anyone who has information about the actions of Jeffrey Anthony Charles are encouraged to report that information to DOJ either online at SupportSurvivors.widoj.gov or by calling 1-877-222-2620.

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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As reported by Douglas County Circuit Court.