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Basketball coach charged with sexually assaulting players was previously investigated

Kirsten Swanson
Updated: July 09, 2020 10:19 PM
Created: July 09, 2020 05:21 PM

New details are emerging about a former youth basketball coach from Brooklyn Center who is charged with sexual abuse of at least two players.

Aaron Hjermstad, 41, was charged last month by Hennepin County prosecutors with first-degree criminal sexual conduct and second-degree criminal sexual conduct in two separate cases.

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Two minor victims and their families came forward to Brooklyn Center police this spring and reported that Hjermstad had sexually abused the former players during sleepovers at his home, according to the criminal complaints.

In a search warrant obtained by 5 INVESTIGATES, Brooklyn Center police make reference to a "prior investigation from 2015." Investigators confirm Hjermstad was investigated by police for "very similar allegations" five years ago.

The Hennepin County Attorney's Office declined to file criminal charges against Hjermstad at that time.

"The reason they didn't charge him is that there wasn't corroboration," said Jeff Anderson, an attorney who represents one of the victims. "And as a result, Hjermstad continued in a position as a teacher, in a position as a coach."

Police say Hjermstad also taught physical education and health at the Mastery School, an elementary charter school in north Minneapolis. A member of the board of directors for the Mastery School declined to comment on the investigation into Hjermstad.

Last month, Anderson sued the former coach, Mastery and Harvest Best Academy, where Anderson claims Hjarmstad also worked with kids.

A spokesperson representing Harvest Best Academy said the former coach was never an employee and that the school "stands with survivors of sexual abuse."

Reacting to the search warrant, Anderson said the admission of a previous criminal investigation into Hjermstad could mean there are more victims.

"Part of the reason this family brought this civil suit was to tell those kids at those schools who had been so vulnerable … that they're not at fault," he said. "They did nothing wrong."

Hjermstad's attorney did not return multiple requests for comment. State records show Hjermstad is still a licensed teacher in the State of Minnesota.

The Minnesota Board of Teaching told 5 INVESTIGATES that while they are aware of his arrest, they cannot confirm any active investigation, nor can they confirm whether Hjermstad was under investigation back in 2015.


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