Brandon Bjerknes Pleads Guilty To Federal Charges
The former Bemidji Middle School Assistant Principal facing federal child pornography charges has now plead guilty to those charges as well as to coercion and enticement of a minor to engage in sexual conduct.
Brandon Bjerknes, 35, appeared in federal court today in St. Paul where he admitted to the allegations.
“Brandon Bjerknes repeatedly victimized vulnerable young girls and boys, many of whom he personally knew because of his former role as Assistant Principal of Bemidji Middle School,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Angela Munoz-Kaphing in a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “Due to a vigilant parent who initially reported disturbing social media messages, and the dedicated efforts of the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Bjerknes’ predatory actions were stopped.”
Court documents show in the first count, of coercion and enticement on or about Sept. 5, 2016, that Bjerknes allegedly used the internet to knowingly persuade, induce and entice a known 13-year-old girl to engage in sexual activity through the production of child pornography. In the second count in production of child pornography, on or about March 12, 2017, Bjerknes allegedly engaged in sexually explicit conduct with a known 12-year-old girl for the purpose of producing a visual depiction.
According to a parent of one of the alleged victims, Bjeknes had sexual conversations with at least 55 victims.
The minimum sentence for coercion and enticement of a minor is 10 years in prison, and the minimum sentence for the child pornography charge is 15 years. However, federal sentencing guidelines suggest a life sentence in prison. Bjerknes will also have to register as a federal sex offender.
It will be up to the judges to decide on Bjerknes’ sentence, but the sentences will run concurrently with the state charges.
Bjerknes will appear in state court on October 4 at the Beltrami County Courthouse. Prosecutors are asking for the public to show support for the victims and their families by attending the upcoming hearing.