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Neche man accused of creating child porn, exploiting minors online

Brandon Lee Bjornstad

A Neche, N.D., man has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges he sexually exploited multiple juvenile victims by coercing them to produce child pornography over a two-year period.

Brandon Lee Bjornstad, 33, has been indicted on 14 federal counts associated with the production, possession and distribution of child pornography: six counts of sexual exploitation of minors, one count of extortion, one count of receipt and distribution of materials containing child pornography and seven counts of possession of materials containing child pornography.

Bjornstad was charged with one count of possessing child pornography in Pembina County District Court in May, leading to a federal indictment on Sept. 22.

He made his initial appearance in federal court Wednesday.

In the six counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, prosecutors accuse Bjornstad of coercing juveniles into engaging in sexual conduct to produce pornographic images and videos shared with him over the internet. One count involves two minor victims, according to the indictment.

The sexual exploitation allegedly took place on dates ranging from May 2015 through April 20, 2017.

Bjornstad was charged with extorting one of his sexual exploitation victims by threatening to injure the minor's reputation if the victim did not provide sexually explicit videos and images, according to the indictment.

Charges state Bjornstad began receiving child pornography in December 2001 and continued to do so until his arrest on May 2.

Bjornstad was arrested at his Neche home at 323 Third St. after investigators said they found a video on his phone and 14 images depicting girls between the ages of 13 and 15 years old.

Law enforcement seized three cellphones, three laptops, three CDs, an SD card and 31 DVDs containing sexaully explicit images of minors from his home.

His state case has been dismissed following federal charges.

Bjornstad's trial is set to begin Dec. 19 in Fargo in front of Judge Ralph Erickson. He is currently being held in Grand Forks while awaiting a detention hearing scheduled for Oct. 16.

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