A former pastor from Winnipeg who was arrested trying to meet a supposed teenager for sex in Arroyo Grande while on vacation with his family will serve time in a California prison rather than his native country.

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This article was published 20/2/2019 (786 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A former pastor from Winnipeg who was arrested trying to meet a supposed teenager for sex in Arroyo Grande while on vacation with his family will serve time in a California prison rather than his native country.

Nathan George Rieger, a former pastor and educator at the Winnipeg Centre Vineyard Church, was sentenced Wednesday to two years in state prison for his conviction on a felony charge of meeting with a minor for a lewd purpose.

He faced a maximum of four years, and currently has about 73 days of time served and other credits.

Before his arrest, Nathan Rieger had served nearly 20 years as pastoral executive for the Winnipeg Centre Vineyard Church.

Before his arrest, Nathan Rieger had served nearly 20 years as pastoral executive for the Winnipeg Centre Vineyard Church.

Superior Court Judge Jacquelyn Duffy denied a motion to allow Rieger to serve his time in Canada and also told him that he must register for life as a sex offender. A District Attorney’s Office spokesperson was not immediately available following the hearing for clarity on whether that registration applies in Canada.

Rieger, 53, has been in custody at the San Luis Obispo County Jail since Jan. 16, according to jail logs, following a recommendation by the Probation Department. Following Wednesday’s hearing, he was to be taken into custody by California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officials for prison placement.

Following a week-long trial and less than a day of jury deliberations, the Canadian citizen was convicted in December of attempting to meet a supposed 15-year-old girl for sex in Arroyo Grande last August when he was in California with his family for a vacation.

During trial, jurors were shown sexually graphic conversations Rieger had through a messaging app with an Arroyo Grande police detective, who was posing as the 15-year-old using photos of a female officer. Rieger was arrested Aug. 10 in a parking lot, where he had coordinated to meet the girl.

Rieger testified in his own defense that he believed the girl was "role-playing" and was actually in her late 20s or early 30s..

After Rieger’s conviction, defense attorney Charles Magill was successful in postponing his sentencing while he researched whether the U.S. has a treaty with Canada that would allow Rieger to serve his sentence there. Though Magill reported that there indeed is such a treaty, Duffy on Wednesday denied that motion.

Nathan Rieger, 53, right, stands next to defense investigator Robert O’Day during Rieger’s trial. (Joe Johnston / San Luis Obispo Tribune/jjohnston@thetribunenews.com)</p>

Nathan Rieger, 53, right, stands next to defense investigator Robert O’Day during Rieger’s trial. (Joe Johnston / San Luis Obispo Tribune/jjohnston@thetribunenews.com)

During the hearing, Magill argued to Duffy that Rieger should only be sentenced to probation, citing his attendance at sex addiction groups since his arrest.

"He is attempting to address his issues," Magill told Duffy.

But Deputy District Attorney Julie Antos countered that Rieger denied his crime on the stand during trial, perjuring himself under oath. She also argued that Rieger has shown no remorse for his actions since his initial interview with the detective.

Asked by Duffy if he wanted to make a statement, Rieger paused for a moment before replying, "No, thanks."

Before his arrest, Rieger had served nearly 20 years as pastoral executive for the Winnipeg Centre Vineyard Church at 782 Main St. The church is part of a global evangelical mission that has more than 2,500 congregations on six continents.

— San Luis Obispo Tribune