Winnipeg pastor found guilty of arranging to meet minor for sex in California

A California jury has found a former Winnipeg pastor guilty of arranging to meet a minor for lewd purposes, after he planned a meeting with an undercover officer posing online as a 15-year-old girl in August.

Nathan George Rieger faces up to four years in state prison after conviction Friday following arrest in August

Nathan George Rieger worked as a pastor at the Winnipeg Centre Vineyard Church on Main Street for 19 years. (School of Mercy and Justice/Facebook)

A California jury has found a former Winnipeg pastor guilty of arranging to meet a minor for lewd purposes, after he planned a meeting with an undercover officer posing online as a 15-year-old girl in August.

Nathan George Rieger was convicted Friday in San Luis Obispo County, northwest of Santa Barbara, according to a news release from the area's district attorney's office.

The conviction came after a week-long trial and a half-day of jury deliberation, the release said. He faces up to four years in state prison for the conviction.

Rieger had pleaded not guilty after he was arrested on Aug. 10 in Arroyo Grande, about 128 kilometres northwest of Santa Barbara, and charged with arranging to meet with a minor for a sexual act and meeting with a minor for a sexual act.

Reiger was arrested on Aug. 10 by the Arroyo Grande Police Department. (Arroyo Grande Police Department)

Later that month, Rieger resigned from his pastor position at Winnipeg Centre Vineyard Church on Main Street in Winnipeg, where he worked for 19 years.

Officers first began investigating Rieger on Aug. 8 as part of an undercover sting operation.

Police created an avatar of a 15-year-old girl, which they used to communicate with Rieger, Cmdr. Shawn Cosgrove with the Arroyo Grande Police Department told CBC in August.

"There's a whole network of people that are looking to have sex with minors and we have a detective bureau that is designated to have conversations with these people that are seeking to have sex with minors," Cosgrove said at the time.

Rieger was represented by Charles Magill and prosecuted by deputy district attorney Julie Antos.

He's set to be sentenced on Jan. 16, 2019, in the San Luis Obispo Superior Court. The sentencing will be presided over by the Honorable Jacqueline Duffy.