Aaron Hjermstad Used His Position of Power to Build Trust with Students & Families in Minneapolis Charter Schools
(Saint Paul, MN) – Today, in Hennepin County District Court, Judge Juan Hoyos sentenced former coach and teacher Aaron Hjermstad to 144 months for sexually abusing minors while he was employed by The Mastery School, volunteered at Hospitality House, and coached basketball at Best Academy and The Mastery School in Minneapolis.
“The impact sexual abuse has had on my child is disturbing, disgusting, and unthinkable,” said Minor Doe 601’s mother, a mother of one of the boys Hjermstad abused. “As a mother, you protect, support, and advocate for your child. How could this happen to my son? How could he [Hjermstad] be so cruel? I will not be silent. I want answers.”
Today’s sentencing stems from Hjermstad’s sexual abuse of four minor boys he taught or coached between 2015 and 2020. In June 2020, Hjermstad was criminally charged for sexually abusing minors. Following that charge, another courageous survivor reported to law enforcement he was sexually abused and later filed a lawsuit alleging Hjermstad sexually abused him when Hjermstad coached basketball at Mastery School and Best Academy between 2016 and 2018.
In 2015, a survivor reported he was sexually abused by Hjermstad, his coach at Hospitality House. This incident was reported to police and investigated, but Hjermstad was not charged. However, the following year, in 2016, Hjermstad was hired as a teacher at Mastery School and coached for Mastery School and Best Academy. Following the reports of sexual abuse in 2020, the 2015 other survivors came forward, which led to Hjermstad being criminally convicted. Because of the courage of the survivors and their families to share their truth, children have been protected from a serial predator.
“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,” said attorney Jeff Anderson. “We applaud all of the courageous survivors and their families that have come forward and shared their truth.”
On November 18, 2021, Judge Martha Ann Holton-Dimick convicted Hjermstad of sexually abusing four boys he taught or coached through Best Academy, Mastery School, and/or Hospitality House, receiving a tentative sentence of 144 months. Following this verdict, Hjermstad was allowed to remain free until sentencing. Hjermstad fled and was apprehended by authorities in Idaho with a significant amount of electronic equipment.
“Mr. Hjermstad, you were put in a position of trust – you were trusted to teach and were trusted to be around children,” said Judge Juan Hoyos. “You took advantage of these children and their families, and what you have done is unthinkable. I hope someday you get help for whatever it is that led you to commit these terrible acts.”