Sex offender gets 15 years for child porn

2013-02-09T00:00:00Z 2013-03-12T13:10:19Z Sex offender gets 15 years for child pornBy ANNE JUNGEN | ajungen@lacrossetribune.com La Crosse Tribune
February 09, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Michael Bjergum victimized at least 171 children.

He and countless others on the Internet robbed each victim of a childhood, La Crosse County Assistant District Attorney Emily Hynek said.

“Every adult who seeks out child pornography participates in the victimization of these children,” she said. “This is not a victimless crime. It is not little girls in bikinis. These are children who are forced to perform disgusting and disturbing acts with adults and other children.”

Bjergum, a 38-year-old father and convicted La Crosse sex offender, was sentenced Friday to the maximum 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to possession of child pornography.

La Crosse County Circuit Judge Dale Pasell said he would have imposed more time if it were available.

“The amount of child pornography he had was stunning,” Pasell said. “He can’t be kept in the community without harming children.”

Investigators found 133 movies and 38 images of child pornography on Bjergum’s computer in October 2011 after a state agent determined someone at his 1418 Rose St. house was sharing the images on the Internet.

A second charge of possession of child pornography and two first-degree sexual assault charges that accused him of repeatedly asking a 9-year-old girl for sex and touching her inappropriately, were dropped partly because of “proof issues,” defense attorney Todd Schroeder said.

The girl, who kept a knife under her pillow to protect herself, asked for a maximum prison term; her mother asked for a lighter sentence.

Bjergum faced a mandatory life sentence if prosecutors didn’t agree to drop an enhancer to the charges are part of the plea agreement.

His criminal history includes convictions for sexually assaulting two young teenage girls in the 1990s, according to court records.

Bjergum has violated and been revoked from probation, lied to probation agents and once lived with his 13-year-old victim he tried to impregnate, Hynek said.

He is an untreated sex offender who once referred to child pornography as “normal stuff,” Hynek said. She asked for a maximum prison sentence on behalf of the 9-year-old girl and the child pornography victims.

“He has been cut more breaks than he should have ever expected,” Hynek said.

Bjergum — and the community — would benefit more from sex offender treatment than a lengthy prison sentence, Schroeder argued.

“I’m sorry to my family and the community for the actions that have put me in jail,” said Bjergum, who added he was willing to undergo treatment.

Bjergum’s grandmother Beverly Bjergum called him a dedicated father to his 4-year-old son and a helpful grandson. She asked for leniency, despite the fact that “he was wrong.”

“He is really not a bad person,” she said. “He has just chosen to do bad things.”

The judge called assaulting children the most heinous crime next to homicide.

Pasell also sentenced Bjergum to 10 years on extended supervision when he finishes his prison term. When released, he must continue sex offender treatment and register as a sex offender.

Copyright 2015 La Crosse Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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