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2 new sex charges filed against former Bemidji assistant principal

Former Bemidji Middle School Assistant Principal Brandon Bjerknes

BEMIDJI, Minn. — A former middle school assistant principal faces two more felonies after he was initially accused of posing on social media as a 13-year-old boy in order to have sexual conversations with children.

Brandon Mark Bjerknes, 34, is now charged with four counts of engaging in electronic communication relating to or describing sexual conduct with a child.

The former Bemidji Middle School administrator—who worked for the district when he was arrested March 23 but resigned in April—previously pleaded not guilty to two felonies.

But an amended criminal complaint filed Wednesday states that prosecutors anticipate "numerous additional victims identified in future charges."

Bjerknes' alleged conduct was brought to the attention of the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office in fall 2016, according to court documents. The office began receiving complaints from parents of adolescent girls who attended the middle school regarding "disturbing" messages found on their children's cell phones.

The messages and social media posts originated from the Facebook account of a person using the name "Brett Larson," who claimed to be a middle or high school student in Duluth.

In January, investigators obtained account information for the "Brett Larson" Facebook page and learned in March that the IP address associated with the account was assigned to Bjerknes.

Investigators then searched Bjerknes' home on March 20. A complaint against Bjerknes states that he told law enforcement that he had created the "Brett Larson" Facebook account, which he accessed on his cell phone.

After seizing Bjerknes' cell phone, an investigator found Snapchat conversations between the username "BrettLarson6969" and two different children, which included photos and descriptions of sexual conduct, according to the complaint. After the investigator told Bjerknes he had seen the Snapchat conversations, Bjerknes allegedly admitted that he had created the "Brett Larson" Snapchat account and that he knew all of the victims were younger than 15.

A separate complaint filed Wednesday alleges that Bjerknes had sexual conversations with a victim via social media in fall 2016, when the child was 13. According to the complaint, Bjerknes asked her to send sexual pictures to the "Brett Larson" account and he sent pictures of what he claimed to be his exposed genitalia.

Grace Pastoor

Grace Pastoor covers crime, courts and social issues for the Bemidji Pioneer. Contact her at (218) 333-9796 or gpastoor@bemidjipioneer.com

(218) 333-9796
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