Attorneys and Survivor’s Family Relieved and Hope Conviction Allows Other Victims to Come Forward
(Saint Paul, MN) – Today, in Hennepin County District Court, Aaron Hjermstad, a former youth coach and teacher at Best Academy, Mastery School, and Hospitality House in Minneapolis, was convicted of sexually abusing four elementary school children he coached between 2015 and 2020. Judge Martha Ann Holton-Dimick delivered her verdict from the bench at a hearing this afternoon. Hjermstad waived his right to a jury trial in September.
“Our family is grateful and relieved that the Judge was able to see the truth and hold Hjermstad accountable,” said Minor Doe 601’s mother, a mother of one of the boys Hjermstad abused. “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.”
Today’s sexual abuse convictions stem from Hjermstad’s abuse of three elementary school-aged boys he coached between 2015 and 2020. In June of 2020, Hjermstad was criminally charged with sexually abusing a former basketball player he coached at Best Academy and another facility, Hospitality House in late 2019 and early 2020. Later that month, Hjermstad was charged with sexually abusing another elementary school-aged boy he coached on a Best Academy basketball team sometime between 2016 and 2018. That courageous child filed a lawsuit against Best Academy and Mastery School in July 2020.
In 2015 Hjermstad was investigated after another boy he coached at Hospitality House reported to police that Hjermstad sexually abused him. Hjermstad was never charged in that case initially and continued to coach at Best Academy and Mastery School, often being allowed to spend time with players outside of school and practice. After the two new children reported sexual abuse by Hjermstad in 2020, the 2015 case was reopened, and Hjermstad was convicted.
“The courage and strength it takes someone to come forward and share their story cannot be overstated,” said Jeff Anderson. “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.”