GRAND FORKS — A Grand Forks man will spend 40 years behind bars for sexually assaulting a 6-year-old girl.
Jeffrey Scott Krogstad was found guilty of gross sexual imposition after a three-day trial in April. He was sentenced Wednesday.
Judge John Thelen sided with the state’s sentencing recommendation, citing concerns that Krogstad would re-offend if given the opportunity.
“My position on the issue is that Mr. Krogstad thought he would never get caught,” he said. “He had to think that to continue with the events that occurred. I believe that he thought that if the allegations would be exposed that they would not be believed, and I believe that he continued on with his activities with this child thinking that no harm was going to come to him. I think, if he was in a situation in the future where the circumstances presented, he would take the risk again.”
Krogstad’s attorney, David Ogren, suggested a lighter sentence, noting the recommendation from the state, which was ultimately imposed by the court, would send Krogstad, 53, to prison until he is in his 90s.
“If the court looks to accept the recommendation by the state, that’s basically a life sentence,” he said.
During the trial, the girl, who was 7 years old by that time, took the stand clutching her teddy bear for support. Though she declined to go into detail in her testimony, jurors heard her recall numerous instances of sexual abuse during a video interview with a forensic interviewer at the Red River Children’s Advocacy Center. The reported abuse spanned from February until July 2018.
Krogstad, on several occasions, would drive the child to what she described as “the middle of nowhere” and fondle her while watching pornographic videos. Investigators said a blue massage wand was found in Krogstad’s car that matched the girl’s description of an object he used to assault her. DNA taken from the wand proved to likely match both Krogstad and the child.
Grand Forks County Assistant State’s Attorney Andrew Eyre said Krogstad planned to continue and escalate the abuse. He pointed to Krogstad’s web search history, which was shown to jurors. Krogstad searched for terms including: “Can a 7 year old girl get pregnant?” “List of youngest birth mothers” and “How can you tell if your child has been penetrated?”
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“We know the defendant sexually exploited a child,” Eyre said. “But what we don’t know is what would have happened if law enforcement would not have caught him.”
Thelen said Wednesday the “evidence in this case was intensely strong for a conviction.”
Krogstad refused to cooperate with a mandated presentence investigation, which is routinely used to determine the level of risk a sex offender poses for reoffending.
Ogren said his client plans to appeal the verdict and refused the presentence investigation so he would not be “divulging any information that could potentially be used against him later on in a court trial.”
Krogstad told the presentence investigator “he felt all of the probation/parole staff and court officials needed to be brought to the front of the courthouse and executed,” according to a sentencing memorandum filed by prosecutors.
“He remains and is a very dangerous man,” Eyre said. “He fantasizes about the execution of court officials — that’s frightening, your honor.”
The gross sexual imposition charge holds a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole. Krogstad was sentenced Wednesday to 50 years in prison with 10 years suspended. He is required to serve at least 34 years, or 85% of the sentence, before he is eligible for parole. Krogstad will spend five years on supervised probation after release and is required to register as a sex offender.
Eyre said the abuse has irreparably damaged the girl, “stole the victim’s innocence” and she will continue to suffer from its impact in the future.
“It’s incredibly concerning what happened and also looking at what he planned to do in the future,” he said.