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Fate of former West Fargo teacher now in the hands of jurors

Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 12:31 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - The fate of a former West Fargo computer science teacher now lies within 12 jurors.

59-year-old Ronald Thompson is charged with one count of luring a minor for sex after chat room messages from October 2019 presented to jurors showed explicit and disturbing messages between Thompson and who he believed was a 14-year-old Florida girl. Many of those messages were sent from Thompson’s district-issued computer while sitting in his classroom at West Fargo High, prosecutors said.

“‘You must tease on the beach. You ever had sex on the beach?’ Right there ladies and gentleman, is that the kind of response that you would expect from a teacher, a referee, a responsible member of our community?” lead prosecutor Ryan Younggren said Thursday afternoon in his closing arguments.

Thompson’s defense attorney Jeff Bredahl continued to try to emphasize to jurors that what his client did was not illegal. Immoral, sure. However, because Thompson never asked to meet with the young girl in person for sexual activities, Bredahl argued Thompson did not meet North Dakota Century Code’s definition of ‘luring.’

“The world is a messy place. And that’s not how we judge people based no matter how messy they are or how lonely they are,” Bredahl told the jury in his closing statements Thursday afternoon.

Bredahl once again asked Judge Tristan Van de Streek to dismiss the case Thursday morning, however, Van de Streek denied the motion. Van de Streek stated Thompson’s request for the teen to turn on her microphone and her webcam could be interpreted as wanting to have phone sex with the young girl her, which constitutes as sexual contact with the minor outlined in the luring charge.

Thompson did not take the stand in his own defense.

Jurors only deliberated for about 20 minutes before being dismissed for the day Thursday afternoon. They will reconvene Friday morning at 9 a.m. If convicted, Thompson faces up to 10 years in prison.

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