7-year-old takes stand in sex-crime trial
As the 7-year-old girl walked toward the front of a Grand Forks County District Courtroom Wednesday afternoon, she wasn't alone.
As Judge John Thelen asked her questions, the girl—clutching a teddy bear—shook the doll up and down or right to left to answer that she understood she was about to testify in the jury trial of 52-year-old Jeffrey Scott Krogstad.
Just before the girl took the stand, 12 jurors watched a video in which she told Susan Spivey, a forensic interviewer for the Red River Children's Advocacy Center, about numerous alleged instances of sexual contact with Krogstad.
He could face up to life in prison if convicted of gross sexual imposition.
In the video, the girl details several encounters where Krogstad would drive her into the "middle of nowhere" and fondle her while watching "inappropriate videos." The girl described to Spivey the numerous pornographic videos she said Krogstad showed her while he drove his gray van and fondled her. She said he sometimes touched her with a vibrating blue toy.
Investigators testified a blue body wand massager was found in Krogstad's car and sent to the state crime lab for DNA testing.
An affidavit for Krogstad's arrest said he assaulted the then-6-year-old several times between Feb. 7 and July 19, 2018. The girl was living with her grandmother, who was friends with Krogstad, she testified.
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On the stand, the girl declined to discuss details of the case.
"I don't want to talk about it," she told Assistant State's Attorney Andrew Eyre before pausing to hug the toy bear and making a promise to be brave.
She later told Krogstad's attorney, David Ogren, she didn't talk about the situation with people she doesn't know and didn't want to go into details "because it makes me feel weird."
Ogren later questioned the girl's grandmother during testimony about an accusation the child made several years prior. Ogren said there were similarities in the cases. The alleged sexual assault was determined by police to be unfounded.
Special Agent Jim Shaw, a digital forensics examiner at the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, testified to finding 19 website visits to pages discussing child sexuality on Krogstad's phone July 4. The pages answered questions like "is it normal for a 6-year-old to be sexually curious?" and "can a 7-year-old girl get pregnant?"
Shaw also testified numerous pornographic videos were downloaded to Krogstad's phone during June 2018. Ogren pointed out that none of the material was illegal.
Spivey, the girl's grandmother, her daycare provider, Grand Forks County Sheriff's Office Investigator Jake Lanes and two BCI agents also testified Wednesday.
Lanes said Krogstad's behavior during the interview was unusual because he was calm during portions that related to the allegations, but got angry during unrelated questioning. Lanes said Krogstad's behavior led him to believe he was trying to hide something or wasn't telling the truth.
The trial began Tuesday with jury selection and is expected to conclude Friday.