Why is First Evangelical Free Church of Maplewood being noted? 
There were about 40 lettlers to the court in support of Gary Odell Weldon
who pleaded guilty to second-degree criminal sexual conduct.

The First Evangelical Free Church of Maplewood
2696 Hazelwood Street
Maplewood, MN 55109

Phone: 651-777-5180
Fax: 651-777-1945
General Information: info@firstefc.org

Pastoral Staff

Jonathan Caldwell, Pastor of Children's Ministries
jcaldwell@firstefc.org

Gil Fruchey, Pastor of Worship & Music
gfruchey@firstefc.org

Kenny King, Associate Pastor of Youth & Families
kking@firstefc.org

Todd Olson, Senior Pastor
tolson@firstefc.org

George Wold, Pastor of Senior Adult Ministries

http://www.twincities.com/north/ci_19449907

Gary Odell Weldon, 65, pleaded guilty to second-degree criminal sexual conduct.
(Ramsey County sheriff's office)

A former Maplewood church youth leader who taught for a short time in St. Paul public schools, according to friends, was sentenced Thursday to 120 days behind bars for molesting a White Bear Lake teen in the 1990s.

Gary Odell Weldon, 65, of White Bear Lake pleaded guilty Oct. 14 to second-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a boy whose family was close friends with Weldon.

Ramsey County District Judge Robyn Millenacker also ordered Weldon, who now works in real estate, to pay a $5,000 fine, undergo a psychosexual evaluation, stay away from alcohol and have no contact with anyone younger than 18. Weldon will be required to register as a predatory offender.

Millenacker told him to report to the Ramsey County Workhouse on Tuesday.

Weldon was a youth leader at First Evangelical Free Church of Maplewood for 15 to 20 years, according to the criminal complaint filed against him.

The victim's parents said Weldon also taught eighth-graders in the St. Paul school district in the early 1970s. A district spokeswoman could not confirm that detail late Thursday.

The judge said she had read all 47 letters she had received in support of Weldon. However, she said, "The 47 letters cannot overcome your predatory conduct toward this child."

She noted that he started abusing the boy after the boy's brother had been diagnosed with testicular cancer. Weldon suggested that he should check the boy's testicles, too.

"You used the victim's family's tragedy as an  opportunity to physically molest a teenager," she said.

In a letter from the now-32-year-old victim, which was read in court by his father, he said, "I thought (Weldon) was truly looking out for me" when he "checked" his genitals.

The victim said Weldon was a close family friend who regularly went on vacations with them and even dated the boy's aunt. His family now believes the dating relationship was a way for Weldon to stay close to the boy, he said in his letter.

The victim's parents said after the hearing that they finally put a stop to Weldon's relationship with their son because Weldon was clearly only interested in spending time with the youngster. The boy was spending virtually no time with children his own age.

Under terms of the plea deal, a 21-month prison sentence could be imposed if Weldon does not abide by the rules of his 25-year probation.

Weldon said nothing before sentencing.

At his plea hearing, Weldon admitted he had abused the victim, who was identified only by his initials, from February 1992 to February 1996, beginning when the boy was 13.

He agreed that he put his hand in the victim's pants and touched him on his private parts "approximately a dozen times."

The abuse took place at the victim's home and at a cabin in Wisconsin, Weldon said. Weldon would have been in his mid- to late 40s then.

His attorney, Phil Villaume, said Thursday that the abuse was an "isolated incident" and that Weldon is a "highly respected leader in his church community."

According to the county attorney's office:

-- Weldon committed third-degree criminal sexual conduct against another boy in June 2010 in Columbus, Ohio. Weldon and the boy were there for a church youth-group trip, according to the criminal complaint in the 1990s case. The Ohio case is pending. Weldon "vehemently" denies the charge, his attorney said.

-- Weldon committed third-degree criminal sexual conduct from 1965 to 1968 in St. Paul when the victim was between 11 and 14 years old.