Brandon Bjerknes Makes Court Appearance, Pleads Guilty To State Charges
“Well, Brandon Bjerknes is a predator,” said Beltrami County Prosecuting Attorney David Frank. “He preyed on unsuspecting middle [school]-aged students.”
Nearly 30 people packed the courtroom to see a former Bemidji Middle School assistant principal plead guilty to four counts of engaging in electronic communication relating to or describing sexual conduct with a child.
“This case broke because parents notified law enforcement of disturbing communications their children were involved with online,” said Frank.
Parents of the victims sat in silence as Bjerknes answered questions from Prosecutor David Frank. Chief Judge Paul Benshoof wanted clarification if Bjerknes knew the identity of the victims, so Frank approached Bjerknes on the stand with the names of the four teens and Bjerknes confirmed he knew who they were.
While on the stand, Bjerknes said he used Facebook and Snapchat to communicate with minors and he admitted the conversations were unprofessional and sexual in nature.
“The penalty for these state charges are three years imprisonment, and we expect the defendant to be sentenced within the Minnesota sentencing guidelines,” said Frank.
During the hearing, Bjerknes disclosed he initiated the sexual chats and they all took place on or about January 2017 to March 2017 in Beltrami County.
According to the complaint, Bjerknes created a fake profile under the name Brett Larson. Some of the 55 victims between the ages of 13 and 14 years old were students at Bemidji Middle School.
One parent released a statement to Lakeland News that reads in part, “This was no mistake, this was no misunderstanding. This was calculated and perverted and he used his position of authority in the middle school to help him.”
By pleading guilty, Bjerknes waives his rights to a trial. We reached out to his attorney Peter Wold, but he had no comment.
On September 28, Bjerknes appeared in federal court and is still awaiting sentencing for felony charges of child coercion and enticement and child pornography production.
“A trial would entail very embarrassing details involving middle school aged children, so we are happy that he took responsibility and pled to all of the state charges,” said Frank.
Bjerknes remains in federal custody. He’s scheduled to appear in state district court on January 10 for sentencing. No sentencing date has been set for the federal charges.