Court Documents Reveal Bjerknes’ Alleged Victims Are BMS Students
The former Bemidji Middle School Assistant Principal Brandon Bjerknes will face two additional felony charges for child sex crimes. The additional charges identified two new victims in the ongoing investigation against Bjerknes, however, the court anticipates “numerous additional victims identified in future charges.”
On Wednesday, a judge signed off on documents that state that some the alleged victims were students at the middle school and that Bjerknes knew who they were based on his job at the time. Court documents reveal he used a position of trust or authority in order to facilitate the offenses.
Using social media accounts, Bjerknes allegedly pretended to being a teenage boy from the Duluth area. He told law enforcement agents during an interview that had received photos and texts from the underage girls via Snapchat.
In a separate case against Bjerknes filed on Wednesday, the Beltrami County Attorney’s office identified a new victim who is 13 years old, identified only as Victim 1. He is being charged with one felony count of engaging in electronic communication relating or describing sexual conduct with a child in this separate case.
During the court hearing today, the judge asked if the fact pattern remained the same or similar to the original charges. Chief Assistant Beltrami County Attorney David Frank replied that they were “nearly identical,” however, there was something that was different in the new case. He did not elaborate on what made them different.
A Bemidji Middle School parent of a second 13-year-old victim, identified as Victim 4, met with law enforcement on March 24, 2017. Court documents say that he had multiple discussions with the victim as recently as January, February and March. Law enforcement started their investigation in the fall of 2016, and executed a search warrant on his property on March 20, 2017.
Due to the new charges, the Beltrami County Attorney’s Office requested a continuance for its ongoing investigation. The defense agreed to the request.
Bjerknes’ lawyer, Peter Wold, asked that the previous request for a speedy trial by withdrawn at this time. The judge granted that request in light of the charges.
Chief Assistant David Frank said that trial considerations or a consolidation of the two cases were premature and would be addressed at a later time. He said that the office had rushed to press the original charges because there was a concern for public safety.
An uncontested omnibus hearing is expected to be held at the Beltrami County Courthouse on July 10th. The county attorney did not request new provisions to the terms of his release. Bjerknes had previously posted a $50,000 bail in order to have an unrestricted release.
The crimes that Bjerknes is charged with each carry a maximum sentence of 3 years in prison, a $5,000 fine or both.