Between a prostitute and a hard place: Pastor resigns after extortion


Yesterday we told you about a Minnesota stripper-turned-prostitute who allegedly extorted $7,000 from a North Dakota pastor to keep their relationship a secret. When his hush money ran dry, the woman made good on her promise and tattled to his wife and church leaders about their sexual affair.

After being exposed, Rev. Mark Ostgarden took the case to the police and resigned from his job as a pastor in Valley City, N.D.

Check out the new details in this strange story below.

Their relationship last three years and developed from paying for dances to paying for sex. The stripper, Bunny Byington, thought it might make sense after their long relationship for him to stop paying and have an affair instead. But eventually she returned to her money-hungry ways.

She allegedly ordered him to pay her $7,000 to keep their relationship a secret from his wife and church. He says he paid her in two installments, slipping it under the door of her Moorhead apartment.

When she asked for more money he said he didn't have it and she proceeded to leak the relationship and send a photo of him in his underwear to church leaders.

Now Ostgarden's 19 years as a Lutheran clergyman in Valley City, N.D. are over.

More from the Star Tribune:

Ostgarden, 52, resigned as associate pastor of Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Valley City, on June 5, the same day he called police about Byington.

"I know I've hurt a lot of friends and family," Ostgarden said in a phone interview Tuesday.

Despite the sex scandal, he said, he hopes to someday again be a faith leader for a church. "If I am able to get the right counseling and help, that's something I'd like to do," said Ostgarden, who grew up in Moorhead and attended Luther Seminary in St. Paul.