Former La Crosse School District employee pleads guilty to sexually assaulting student

Former La Crosse School District employee pleads guilty to sexually assaulting student

A former show La Crosse School District employee has pleaded guilty to five counts of sexually assaulting a child under 16 years old. Dustin Bagstad, 34, entered the plea Monday during a hearing at the La Crosse County Courthouse

Bagstad was previously charged with 10 counts of 2nd-degree sexual assault of a child, six counts of sexual assault of a child by a person who works or volunteers with children, two counts of exposing genitals/pubic area/intimate parts to a child and one count of repeated sexual assault of the same child.

As part of a plea agreement, Bagstad pleaded guilty to five counts of second-degree sexual assault of a child.

“I engaged in a sexual relationship with a young woman identified as ‘Victim A’, who was 15 years of age at the time,” Bagstad said during the hearing.

The other counts, including charges involving a second child identified as ‘Victim B’, will be read-in during his sentencing hearing for consideration by the judge.

“The defendant agreed to plea guilty to five counts. And rather than delay the case further for the trial, and people to testify, the victims felt this was an appropriate way to resolve the case,” said Tim Gruenke, district attorney for La Crosse County.

According to the criminal complaint, ‘Victim A’ reported to the La Crosse Police Department that when she was a freshman, Bagstad would give her rides home from choir rehearsal.

After some time, their conversations turned sexual and they exchanged photos of their bodies, according to the complaint. The document also details how Bagstad would have sex with the victim, at one point, after rehearsal.

During a search of the defendant’s apartment, an investigator found numerous letters from former and current choir students at the time. A framed photo of the victim was found in the defendant’s bedroom, according to the complaint.

Bagstad admitted to having conversations with another student that got “pretty intimate.” He initially denied having done anything inappropriate with the victim but eventually admitted to having sex with her multiple times.

The district attorney said the victims felt it was important that Bagstad plea to more than one count. An amended criminal complaint shows a Victim A, B, C and E, so the judge will consider what happened to all of the victims at Bagstad’s sentencing.

“He’ll be punished accordingly and the record will reflect it happened more than once. We’ll have this case done easier than going to trial and having to testify,” Gruenke said after the hearing.

The state is not recommending a specific length of time for the charges. Instead, the other counts will be read-in for the judge to take into account during sentencing.

“So, at some point, it became a law of diminishing returns and decided that the charges will be considered by the judge, he just won’t be facing time for those charges,” Guenke said.

If he receives the maximum sentence, Bagstad could receive up to 200 years in prison, 75 years of which could be under extended supervision. Bagstad is scheduled to be sentenced in April 2019.

Note: Updated to include the La Crosse County District Attorney’s comments about the plea agreement following Monday’s hearing.
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