The lead pastor of a Burnsville mega church has resigned amid an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse made by two women dating back to his time as a youth pastor in Indiana.
Rev. Wes Feltner's departure from Berean Baptist Church was confirmed in a statement to church members this weekend.
It comes after the church hired an outside firm to investigate claims he engaged in inappropriate sexual relationships with two women when he was in his 20s and they were both 18, who claimed he used his position to pressure them into sex.
"After much prayer and deep consideration for his family and the mission of Berean Baptist Church, Pastor Wes Feltner has submitted his resignation," the statement reads. "Pastor Wes and his family are entering a period to seek healing and we will walk with them during this process."
The statement notes that Feltner is "cooperating fully" with the investigation, with the church saying it "understands the gravity" of the allegations and "we take them very seriously."
Feltner has been with the Berean Baptist Church for six years, but was placed on leave earlier this month after his two accusers shared their stories on a blog about their past experiences with him.
The women's stories are similar. Both women say they spoke to Feltner following breakups in 2002 while he was a youth pastor at their church in Indiana. Both women were 18 at the time and say Feltner wanted them to keep their relationship secret because he was publicly dating another woman.
Both women also say Feltner used his position of power to pressure them sexually and dismissed their concerns when they questioned his behavior.
Eventually, the women's paths crossed and they found out they had both been secretly dating Feltner while he publicly dated another woman. According to the women, the situation was made aware to his then-church and Feltner left his role.
The incident resurfaces 17 years later
It's been 17 years since the incidents, and both women say it's been a long road to healing.
While Feltner is now married and removed from the lives of both women, the allegations resurfaced when a Tennessee woman familiar with the situation in 2002 found out the pastor was being considered for a position at a local church.
According to the women's blog, they thought the Tennessee church should know about Feltner's past.
Feltner admitted in a statement to Berean Baptist earlier this month that he had considered joining another church, but suspended his consideration as soon as the allegations surfaced.
"I agree with some of the facts alleged in the statements and deeply regret the hurt I caused but some of the allegations are not true," Feltner said in a statement to his congregation.
Feltner did not go into much detail about which parts of the allegations were and were not true. He did, however, admit to dating the women with the permission of their parents when they were 18 and he was a "single young man working as a youth leader."
Feltner says he has reached out to the women "several times" seeking an opportunity to hear their story and respond, but he has not heard back.
"I remain fully willing to address and apologize for any concerns whenever they are willing to talk," the pastor said in his statement.
In Minnesota, a clergy member who has sex with someone they counsel is guilty of criminal sexual conduct regardless of consent or age, the Star Tribune explains. That is not the case in Indiana where Feltner worked at the time of the incidents.