Updated: Bjerknes Faces Federal Child Pornography Charges
Updated: May 31st at 3:35 PM.
Former Bemidji Middle School Assistant Principal Brandon Bjerknes has been charged with four federal counts of child pornography and attempted coercion and enticement of a minor. Acting United States Attorney Gregory G. Brooker announced the charges during Bjerknes’ first court appearance on Wednesday.
He has been charged with two counts of production of child pornography, one count of distributing child pornography and one count of attempted coercion and enticement of a minor.
In a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s office, the office says Bjerknes allegedly used Facebook and Snapchat to send “decoy photographs” to contact minor females and males in middle and high school. To date, law enforcement has identified evidence that Bjerknes used the alias to contact more than 50 minor victims.
In an email to Lakeland News, Prosecuting Attorney David Frank says the federal charges will not prevent the State of Minnesota from pursuing state criminal charges for soliciting children to engage in communications describing sexual conduct or any other potential state criminal offenses. The impending federal charges may interfere with the timely processing of the state cases, but it’s premature to speculate at this point.
Bjerknes is already facing four counts of engaging or relating sexual conduct with a child. His next court appearance at the Beltrami County Court is on July 10.
Bjerknes allegedly used social media accounts to pose as a teenage boy from the Duluth area. He told authorities during an interview that he received photos and texts from underage girls through Snapchat.
Court documents state Bjerknes knew who some of the alleged victims were based on his job as a former assistant principal at Bemidji Middle School.
In a separate case involving a 13-year-old victim identified as Victim 4, court documents say Bjerknes had multiple discussions with the victim as recently as March 2017.
This is a developing story. Stay with Lakeland News as we continue to update this information.