Trial begins for former WF teacher accused of luring 14-year-old girl
FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - Emotions were high today for a former teacher on trial for sexting and enticing a young girl online to have sex with him.
Prosecutors showed dozens of the explicit and disturbing conversations between 59-year-old Ronald Thompson and who he believed was a 14-year-old girl from Florida. Many of the things said are too graphic to detail, but some of the conversations are outlined in Thompson’s criminal complaint you can read here.
“After some small talk, the conversation turns sexual quickly. Ron describes in detail how he would have sex with Gabi. Ron sends photo of him, a photo him while he’s sitting in his classroom at school,” SheraLynn Ternes with the Cass County State’s Attorney’s Office said Wednesday morning in her opening statements.
Thompson’s attorney Jeff Bredahl says all the evidence will show is that his client is immoral, but urged jurors that his client did not do anything criminal because Thompson never made any attempt to meet in-person with the girl for sexual relations.
Bredahl told jurors Thompson was lonely in his marriage which led him to find companionship online both in game and chat rooms. Although evidence has yet to be entered, Bredahl states Thompson entered a chatroom on Oct. 2019 for ‘older women looking for men,’ when Thompson initiated the chat with the undercover agent who was posing as a teen girl.
“Do I enjoy the chats? Yes, but I don’t get sexually aroused from that standpoint,” Thompson said in an audio recording from earlier this year.
“Ok, and obviously that’s hard for me to believe after reading all of these chats,” Detective Derek Werner with West Fargo Police responded.
In cross-examination of that undercover agent Wednesday afternoon, Bredahl told the agent that during those conversations the agent was playing into and guiding Thompson into a sexual fantasy conversation. The undercover agent, Travis Askew of the United States Air Force Office in Tampa, Fl., adamantly denied Bredahl’s accusations.
Evidence has not been found connecting Thompson to any other young teens or children at West Fargo High School, former students or any athletes which Thompson was a referee for throughout his many years in the area. New audio released in court Wednesday revealed while Thompson says he does like chatting online with younger girls, he was adamant that he never crossed the line with any of his students or young athletes.
“None of the students?” Detective Werner said in the audio recording from Feb. 2021.
“None,” Thompson replied.
“Never tried to work anything out for a grade or anything like that?” Werner asked.
“Never,” Thompson said.
If convicted, Thompson faces up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.
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