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Former MN youth basketball coach sentencing to 12 years for sexually assaulting players

Aaron Hjermstad was found guilty of criminal sexual conduct against four children in November.

A former Minnesota youth basketball coach has been sentenced to 12 years in prison after he was convicted in four separate criminal sexual conduct cases.

Aaron Hjermstad, 42, of Brooklyn Center, was found guilty in November of sexually abusing four elementary children he coached between 2015 and 2020. He worked at the Mastery School and volunteered at the Hospitality House Youth Development in Minneapolis, and also coached basketball at Best Academy.

Hjermstad was found guilty of one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, one count of fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct and two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct.

A victim and student at the Hospitality House first came forward in 2015, though Hjermstad was not charged. Hjermstad moved to the Mastery School in 2016, and allegations again came up in 2020. These allegations also prompted other victims from 2015 to come forward, according to the attorneys representing the victims.

“So often children feel that sexual abuse is their fault. It is so important for these kids, and all survivors know that it’s not their fault – it’s never their fault when the adult they trust sexually abuses them,” victims' attorney Jeff Anderson said in a statement.

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After his guilty verdict, Hjermstad was allowed to remain free until sentencing, though he was ordered to stay in Minnesota. He attempted to flee and was apprehended by state police in Idaho, according to East Idaho News.

He was then booked into an Idaho jail and extradited back to Minnesota.

On Wednesday, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office announced Hjermstad was sentenced to 144 months in prison. He will also have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

“The impact sexual abuse has had on my child is disturbing, disgusting, and unthinkable,” said one of the victim’s mothers in a statement provided by attorneys. 

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