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Paul Zunker ordered not to have contact with victim, skip church after party elects new chairman

Paul Zunker, the former Carver County Republican Chairman, made his first court appearance this morning to face molestation charges.

Zunker was ordered booked and released under the following conditions: That he not have contact with the victim, avoid the family church, turn over his passport, and remain in Minnesota. The judge also ruled that Zunker "may have contact with other children per social services." His next court appearance is scheduled for November 23.

City Pages reported yesterday that Zunker's specific charges -- criminal sexual misconduct with a minor he had a "significant relationship" with -- mean, by statute, that he either lived with his victim or was a blood relative of hers.

Zunker is being represented by Howard Bass, a Burnsville criminal defense attorney. Bass did not respond to phone messages. Zunker has also been hard to reach, canceling phone numbers and deleting most of his web presence.

The Carver County Republican Party met yesterday to elect a replacement for Zunker. Waconia attorney Christine Swee had been filling in as acting chair of the party until yesterday.

Swee told City Pages this afternoon that the party unanimously voted for Steve Nielsen as Zunker's replacement. City Pages asked if the party has a statement about Zunker's sitatuation, and Swee responded that she'd prepared one and that it's "available."

When we asked for it, she said it was up to Nielsen, and hung up the phone.

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