In August 2018, Nathan Rieger, pastor of Winnipeg Centre Vineyard Church in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, was arrested and charged by California police with trying to set up a meeting to have sex with a minor.
Arrest records of the Arroyo Grande Police Department say Nathan George Rieger, 53, was arrested on Aug. 10. He was charged with arranging to meet with a minor for a sexual act and meeting with a minor for a sexual act.
The Arroyo Grande Police Department first began investigating Rieger on Aug. 8.
“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,” said Cmdr. Shawn Cosgrove with the Arroyo Grande Police Department.
Officers created an avatar of a 15-year-old girl, which they used to communicate with Rieger, Cosgrove said.
Rieger has worked as a pastor for the Winnipeg Centre Vineyard Church on Main Street. The church released a statement Tuesday saying Rieger, who worked there for 19 years, had resigned his position. His departure and criminal charges were announced at a church service on Sunday.
Rieger was later found guilty and sentenced to two years in prison. In December 2019, he was released from prison after serving six months. The United States later deported him back to Canada.
A former pastor from Winnipeg convicted of trying to arrange to meet a child for sex in California is no longer in prison.
Nathan Rieger was sentenced to two years in prison in California in February 2019. A jury had found him guilty in December 2018 after a week-long trial.
A spokesperson for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said he was released on Dec. 30 to community supervision in Fresno County.
His early release came after he earned credit for rehabilitative programs and for the time he had already spent in custody before sentencing.
David Ruiz, a division director with the Fresno County Probation Department, said Rieger never physically reported to them, but did call the office from a private number on Monday. Ruiz said they are still trying to determine his whereabouts.
The county department verified Tuesday morning that Rieger was deported back to Canada last week through U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to Ruiz.
Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
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