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Valley City, N.D. pastor resigned after reportedly being extorted by exotic dancer

Bunny Annette Byington, of Moorhead, is charged in Clay County District Court with extorting $7,000 from a local pastor to keep their affair secret from his wife and senior pastor.

MOORHEAD - A Valley City, N.D., pastor resigned from his post the same day he contacted police here about an exotic dancer extorting him to keep their affair secret.

The Rev. Mark S. Ostgarden resigned from his position as associate pastor at Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Valley City on June 5. He had served there for about nine years, according to the Rev. Randy Schlecht, senior pastor at the church.

Ostgarden, 52, told police that Bunny Annette Byington, 46, extorted him for $7,000 and unsuccessfully demanded an additional $18,000 before she contacted his wife, Schlecht and the bishop's office about the affair, court documents state.

Byington, of Moorhead, is charged in Clay County District Court with two counts of felony coercion and one count of felony attempted coercion.

Court documents state:

Ostgarden, who his identified only by his initials in the documents, contacted police June 5 regarding a woman he had met about three years ago extorting him to hide their affair.

He identified the woman as Byington and said he first contacted her for an exotic dance, and eventually began having sex with her for money. That continued until this past March when she told him he could stop paying for sex and they could just consider their relationship an affair.

The two had weekly meetings from March until May 14, when Byington demanded $6,000, saying otherwise she would tell the church bishop about the affair.

The pastor paid her the money and then another $1,000 after she made another demand.

Later Byington asked for more money but when the pastor told her he could not pay she called his wife, his senior pastor and an assistant to the bishop.

Byington was released from jail last Thursday after posting $500 cash bail, according to the Clay County Jail.