Priest arrested, accused of sexual assault, Jamestown police say
The investigation is ongoing.
JAMESTOWN — A St. James Basilica priest removed from ministry pending an investigation of inappropriate conduct was arrested Wednesday, Feb. 1, on suspicion of committing sexual exploitation by a therapist in Stutsman County, according to Maj. Justin Blinksy, assistant chief of police with the Jamestown Police Department.
Neil Joseph Pfeifer, 48, was arrested in Rugby, North Dakota, and taken to the Pierce County Correctional Facility, where he awaits formal charges, Blinsky said.
Bishop John Folda of the Diocese of Fargo issued a statement that Pfeifer was removed from active ministry on Jan. 14 pending an investigation into allegations of inappropriate conduct with adults. Pfeifer served St. James Basilica in Jamestown, St. Margaret Mary's Catholic Church in Buchanan and St. Mathias Catholic Church in Windsor.
“Father Pfeifer remains out of ministry as pastor of the Basilica of St. James in Jamestown, St. Margaret Mary in Buchanan, and St. Mathias in Windsor, pending the outcome of the criminal investigation, and the Diocese of Fargo is cooperating fully with the investigation," Folda said in a statement Thursday, Feb. 2. "Please pray for all involved.”
Pfeifer came to St. James Basilica after the death of Monsignor Jeffrey Wald in October 2020.
The Jamestown Police Department received a report on Jan. 13 from an individual saying he or she had been sexually assaulted in December at St. James Basilica, Blinsky said. He said Pfeifer was known to the victim and was acting as a therapist when the sexual contact occurred.
Investigators learned that Pfeifer potentially committed criminal acts in other jurisdictions, Blinsky said.
A coordinated investigation between the Jamestown Police Department, North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Logan County Sheriff’s Office and the Napoleon Police Department was initiated.
The investigation is ongoing and additional charges are possible, Blinsky said. The Rugby Police Department and Pierce County Sheriff’s Office also assisted the Jamestown Police Department, North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Logan County Sheriff’s Office and the Napoleon Police Department.
Anyone with any information regarding these incident(s) is encouraged to contact Jamestown Police Sgt. Jason Prochnow at (701) 252-2414 or BCI Special Agent Troy Kelly at (701) 251-2993.