Parents sue after Bemidji students sexually exploited
BEMIDJI, Minn. (AP) — The parents of two students are suing the Bemidji school district, alleging it was negligent in allowing a former assistant principal to sexually exploit their children.
Brandon Bjerknes, who was arrested in 2017, is serving a federal prison sentence for producing child pornography and coercing minors into sexual contact.
A lawsuit by the parents of two of his victims claims Bemidji Area Schools were negligent in allowing him to abuse children for years.
The plaintiffs’ lawyer, Rebekah Bailey, tells Minnesota Public Radio News the district should have been monitoring Bjerknes’web activity. The lawsuit claims the school knew that middle school girls were being targeted online, but did not investigate.
The district’s superintendent, Tim Lutz, declined to comment directly on the lawsuit, but said school officials track web traffic on school computers.
“But a lot of time,” Lutz said, “if students or staff bring their own technology, their own cell phones, and they’re using their data plans, they can get around that.”
Bailey said she hopes the lawsuit will prompt the district to work harder at protecting students.
“The school was put on notice,” Bailey said. “Had they acted, had they not ignored these serious complaints and concerns, more children could have been spared.”