Bjerknes Victims Sue Bemidji School District
The families of two victims of a former Bemidji Middle School assistant principal convicted of sexually exploiting dozens of children are suing the Bemidji School District. The complaint asks for a judgment of no less than $75,000.
In 2017, Brandon Bjerknes pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of coercion and enticement of a minor and one count of production of child pornography in federal court. He also pleaded guilty in state court to four counts of engaging in electronic communication relating to or describing sexual conduct with a child. Bjerknes is currently serving 25 years in federal prison.
He admitted to using multiple electronic devices to access fake social media accounts, often during school hours, where he pretended to be a middle school boy from Duluth. Bjerknes used personal information that he obtained by virtue of his Assistant Principal position to lure victims, learn their interests, gain their trust, capitalize on their vulnerabilities, and sexually exploit minors.
The victim’s families allege, among other things:
- That the victims continued to suffer after being identified as victims of sex harassment and exploitation at the hands of other students, families and faculty in the district.
- That the school district failed to effectuate its Internet & Device Usage Policy or otherwise monitor, as promised, its staffs’ inappropriate use of its internet and devices for illegal and harmful purposes.
- That the school district became aware, or should have become aware, of problems indicating that Bjerknes was an unfit employee with dangerous and exploitative propensities, yet the school district failed to take any action to investigate or ultimately discharge Bjerknes.
The entire complaint is 22-pages long. The victim’s families are demanding a trial by jury.
Bemidji Schools Superintendent Tim Lutz confirmed to Lakeland News tonight that the district has received notification of the lawsuit and that they are currently in consultation with their district legal counsel. Lutz was not working in the Bemidji school district at the time of Bjerknes’s crimes and cannot comment any further.