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Former St. Cloud priest, Anthony Joseph Oelrich, sentenced to 41 months in prison for sexual assault

Anthony Joseph Oelrich, 54, a former Catholic priest, was facing up to 15 years in prison for sexually abusing someone who was seeking his spiritual guidance.

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ST. CLOUD — Anthony Joseph Oelrich, 54, was sentenced to 41 months in prison for criminal sexual conduct in the third degree by Judge Kris Davick-Halfen for 2013-2014 incidents where he sexually assaulted a person who had sought spiritual guidance from him, according to a Stearns County Attorney’s Office news release.

Oelrich entered a guilty plea Nov. 6, 2019, and admitted that he engaged in sexual penetration with the person who was seeking spiritual guidance from him for previous sexual abuse.

Oelrich was facing up to to 15 years in prison and a $30,000 fine.

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Anthony Joseph Oelrich

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In 2017, the person reported to the incident to the St. Cloud Police Department and that Oelrich had used vulnerabilities related to the previous sexual abuse against her.

At the time, Oelrich was an ordained priest with the St. Cloud Diocese and affiliated with the Newman Center in St. Cloud. He was relieved of his duties when he was charged in early 2018.

The complaint against Oelrich lists multiple occasions in 2013 and 2014 when he used his position to sexually abuse the person, including an incident where the person was directed by Oelrich to pick up a phone call from a former abuser.

While the person was speaking to their abuser, Oelrich exposed himself, telling them they needed something for their hands, according to the complaint.

The complaint also lists occasions where Oelrich used his position to have intercourse with the person.

In Minnesota, it is illegal for a clergy member to engage in sexual acts with someone who is seeking spiritual guidance from them.

At sentencing, Oelrich asked the court to depart from sentencing guidelines and place him on probation. The court denied his motion and imposed a sentence in line with the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines.

Judge Davick-Halfen also ordered Oelrich to register as a predatory offender.

Mark Wasson has been a public safety reporter with Post Bulletin since May 2022. Previously, he worked as a general assignment reporter in the southwest metro and as a public safety reporter in Willmar, Minn. Readers can reach Mark at mwasson@postbulletin.com.
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