Your Thursday News Brief: October 5

By: News Director Larissa Donovan at 10:38 a.m.

FEATURED PHOTO: First National Bank Foundation invests in Bemidji Area Boys and Girls Club.

WALKER— A Cass County man accused of sexually assaulting a five-year-old girl is expected to serve more than four years in prison after reaching a plea deal.  William Schoor of Pine River  was convicted of criminal sexual conduct with a victim under the age of 13. According to the criminal complaint, Schoor’s victim was a relative who was sleeping at the time of the assault. Schoor was initially charged with six counts of criminal sexual conduct, but the amended plea deal on Sept. 15 proposed dismissal of five of those charges.  If the plea agreement is approved by a judge several charges will be dropped, including criminal sexual conduct with penetration and sexually assaulting a helpless victim.  Schoor’s sentencing in Cass County Court is set for November 13th.

BEMIDJI— Brandon Mark Bjerknes, the former Bemidji Middle School assistant principal who used a fake social media account to communicate with what investigators suspect to be at least 50 minors, pleaded guilty to four local sex crime charges in Beltrami County Court Wednesday. Bjerknes pleaded guilty to two federal charges last week; one charge of coercing and enticing minors and one charge of producing and distributing child pornography. Bjerknes could face up to a life in prison for the federal charges, and any sentence the Beltrami County court imposes on him would be served concurrently. Bjerknes, charged in Beltrami county with four counts of engaging in sexually explicit conversations online with minors, has been remanded to federal custody.

For more details on this story, check out my piece from yesterday here.

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35-year-old Brandon Mark Bjerknes. Photo courtesy of the Beltrami County Jail.

CROOKSTON—A 59-year-old Grand Forks man died Tuesday morning in a two vehicle crash near Crookston. According to the Minnesota State Patrol, Gregory Driscoll was northbound in his Mercedes Benz on Highway 75 when he failed to yield to an eastbound freightliner tractor on Highway 2, driven by 53-year-old Kristopher Rittel of Grand Forks. The two vehicles collided in the intersection. Rittel was taken to the River View Health clinic in Crookston for treatment of his non-life-threatening injuries. Driscoll was pronounced dead at the scene. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Crookston Police, and Crookston Fire Department assisted at the scene.

BEMIDJI—Enrollment has increased at Bemidji State University for the third consecutive year, with the university enjoying its highest number of enrolled students since 2011. Head count enrollment at BSU on the 30th day of fall classes — the date used for official fall enrollment counts — is 5,198, an increase of 78 students, or 1.5 percent. It is the university’s third highest in the last 25 years. Online enrollment remains an increasingly important component of BSU’s overall enrollment.  This year, nearly 40 percent of BSU’s 4,833 undergraduate students are taking online courses. It is the third consecutive year BSU has had more than 2,000 students taking online courses.

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BEMIDJI— The First National Bank Bemidji Foundation invested $20,000 over two years towards Triple Play, a daily program offered to over 600 Club members year-round at the Boys & Girls Club of the Bemidji Area. The program, according to a release, “demonstrates to youth how eating smart, keeping fit and forming positive relationships adds up to a healthy lifestyle through Mind, Body and Soul components.” Since 2008, the First National Bank Bemidji Foundation has invested over $85,000 in youth at the Boys & Girls Club of the Bemidji Area through grant awards.

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Pictured L to R: Club resource development director, Becky Bergquist, Club executive director, Andrea Ohnstad, First National Bank Bemidji Foundation Board Members, Ron Cuperus, Glen Lindseth, Dean Thompson, Board secretary/treasurer, Becky Bentfield, Board president, Paul Welle.

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