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5/18/2003                                                                                       View Comments

wwjd

RAMSEY COUNTY: Sunday school teacher sentenced for actions with teen
BY HANNAH ALLAM
Pioneer Press

WWJDA Sunday school teacher who asked a 16-year-old boy to write "What would Jesus do?" on his penis will spend a month on work release, according to the sentencing agreement reached Tuesday in Ramsey County District Court.

Todd Warren, 42, who pleaded guilty in April to a misdemeanor count of indecent exposure, was also originally ordered to write a letter describing the incident to fellow worshipers at Prairie Oak Community Church in Andover. But the church balked at the sentence, arguing that such a letter would be considered pornographic and would identify the teen-age victim.

Although the church was not a party to the criminal case, Ramsey County District Judge Margaret Marrinan heard the argument Tuesday and instead allowed the pastor to write a letter to his 150-member congregation and simply keep Warren's letter in the case file. A note from the victim's mother supported the decision.

The Rev. Steve Gahagen's letter contains less description about the incident, and asks parishioners to pray for protection and reconciliation.

"The Evil One has struck a tremendous blow to our congregation," Gahagen wrote.

Warren, a nuclear pharmacist, befriended the boy at church and briefly hired him as an employee, according to court papers. Last September, Warren took the boy to a park and asked him personal and sexual questions about masturbation and homosexuality. He invited the boy to his office and said writing "What would Jesus do?" on his penis would prevent sexual temptation. Warren also asked for daily e-mail updates about the boy's sexual thoughts.

The boy told his parents, who alerted Roseville police.

"In time, I know God will help us to forgive him for this grievous act and we wish him no harm," the boy's mother wrote to the judge. "The day of sentencing was the beginning of the healing process for our family."

Warren resigned from the board of the church and he and his family are no longer part of the congregation, according to court papers. The pastor stressed that Warren was not acting in a church role when he invited the boy to his office.

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