MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A former Twin Cities basketball coach has been convicted of sexually assaulting players who stayed at his home.
In Hennepin County Court, 42-year-old Aaron Hjermstad, of Brooklyn Center, was found guilty by Judge Martha Ann Holton-Dimick, delivering her verdict from the bench. He earlier waived his right to a jury trial.
“Our family is grateful and relieved that the Judge was able to see the truth and hold Hjermstad accountable,” one of the victim’s mothers said through their legal team. “A guilty verdict will not erase what this perpetrator was allowed to do to my child, but I hope that knowing the man who abused him will be held accountable for what he did provides a positive step on my son’s journey to healing.”
Hjermstad last year was charged with assaulting two boys. Hjermstad is a former teacher at the Mastery School in Minneapolis and basketball coach with Hospitality House. He was later charged with second-degree criminal sexual conduct stemming from a re-examined 2015 case.
According to the criminal complaint, a middle school-aged child reported to authorities that Hjermstad touched him inappropriately when he stayed the night at his home in late 2014. The child reported a second incident in early spring of 2015.
The Hennepin County Attorney’s office says Hjermstad is expected to get a 144-month prison sentence.
Jeff Anderson, attorney representing one of the survivors, says that there may have been dozens of children abused by Hjermstad over the years. According to Anderson, Hjermstad groomed children in a “disturbing mattern,” not only at Mastery School and Hospitality House, but also at Excell Academy in Brooklyn Park.
“So often children feel that sexual abuse is their fault, that they are somehow complicit in a predators’ self-serving conduct. We support Judge Holton-Dimick’s decision and applaud this survivor’s bravery to come forward and share his truths,” Anderson said.
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