Manitoba

Winnipeg pastor sentenced to 2 years for arranging to meet teen for sex acts

A Winnipeg pastor has been sentenced to two years in a California prison after he was found guilty of arranging to meet a 15-year-old for sexual purposes.

15-year-old was actually an avatar created by police in California

Nathan Rieger, 53, worked as a pastor at the Winnipeg Centre Vineyard Church on Main Street. (School of Mercy and Justice/Facebook)

A Winnipeg pastor has been sentenced to two years in a California prison after he was found guilty of arranging to meet a 15-year-old for sexual purposes.

San Luis Obispo County Judge Jacquelyn Duffy sentenced Nathan Rieger, 53, on Wednesday. He faced a sentence of up to four years in state prison.

Rieger was a pastor at Winnipeg Centre Vineyard Church on Main Street when he was arrested on Aug. 10, 2018, in Arroyo Grande, Calif., after he arranged to meet with a 15-year-old girl for sexual purposes.

The girl, K.C., was actually an avatar created by police as part of an undercover operation that started two days earlier.

Rieger was arrested when he arrived at the location where he'd arranged to meet what he believed was the teen girl.

He resigned from his position at the church, where he'd worked for 19 years, after his arrest. 

Rieger will begin his sentence in California but under a Canada-U.S. treaty can apply to serve his prison term in his home country.

Reiger was arrested on Aug. 10, 2018, by the Arroyo Grande Police Department. (Arroyo Grande Police Department)

He also will be registered as a sex offender in California.

David Ruis, the national director of the Association of Vineyard Churches Canada, said last month that he was "absolutely gutted" by the arrest and conviction of Rieger, whom he considered a friend.

Rieger was also a contract instructor for Canadian Mennonite University's Outtatown program for young adults.

"To our knowledge, beyond this present situation in California, we know of no untoward incidents involving Nathan," says an Outtatown website post from August 2018 that addressed Rieger's arrest.

"Should you wish, don't hesitate to be in touch with our office. We certainly want to be accessible if you desire to contact us."

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