MAPLEWOOD, Minn. (WCCO) — A long-time youth ministry volunteer for a church in Maplewood has been charged with sexually abusing a teenage boy.

According to the criminal complaint, 65-year-old Gary Weldon of White Bear Lake volunteered for 15 to 20 years at the First Evangelical Free Church.

Weldon allegedly inappropriately touched victim on many occasions, starting in 1992 when the boy was 13 years old and continuing for about four years.

Church leaders were contacted about the alleged abuse in April, and the investigation led to second-degree criminal sexual conduct charge.

The church released a statement Tuesday afternoon, which said that they are “shocked and saddened to learn of the sexual abuse claims against Gary Weldon, a former member of our Church who volunteered in youth ministry,” and that they “want the public to know the Church Elders immediately removed Mr. Weldon from any further contact with youth.”

Weldon has resigned from his membership with the church.

The church statement also said that the church offers “prayers to all victims of sexual abuse and encourage any victim to promptly notify our Church Elders or the White Bear Lake Police Department.”

If convicted, Weldon could face a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison and/or a $35,000 fine.

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