Bemidji Middle School Assistant Principal Appears In Court
A Bemidji Middle School Assistant Principal has been charged with two felony counts of engaging in electronic communication relating or describing sexual conduct with a child. Brandon Bjerknes appeared in Beltrami County District Court today, after he was arrested on suspicion of soliciting minors.
According to court documents, the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Department started an investigation in January for a Facebook account under the name Brett Larson. In a press release from the Sheriff’s Department, the persona was supposedly a thirteen-year-old attending Morgan Park in Duluth. The school has been closed for several years.
By tracking the IP address associated with the Facebook account, law enforcement officials were led to 34-year-old Brandon Mark Bjerknes’ home in Bemidji.
During a search of the property, a sergeant took a statement from Bjerknes during which he admitted to creating the Facebook account and had accessed the page from several different devices.
On a seized cell phone, law enforcement found a Snapchat account where two separate juvenile victims sent photos and text back and forth describing sexual acts. Bjerknes later admitted he knew they were under 15. Law enforcement confirmed the nature of the conversations with the 13 and 14 year old victims.
One of the victims told law enforcement that she began speaking with Larson a couple of years ago, but had only reengaged in communication with him in February.
During today’s hearing, Bjerknes’ attorney asked for a smaller bail amount due to his client’s short criminal history. His lawyer declined to comment.
An official at the Beltrami County Jail confirmed that Bjerknes is no longer in jail, but could not confirm what amount of bail he posted, which would determine his conditions.
Law enforcement officials are asking for parents to talk to their children to see if they had any contact with the persona Brett Larson on any social media or email accounts.
Bjerknes is expected to have an omnibus hearing on April 17th, at the Beltrami County Courthouse.