August 31, 2007 in Idaho

Idaho child abuser sentenced

Taryn Brodwater Staff writer
 
Kathy Plonka photo

Edmund Bergeman awaits sentencing Thursday at the Kootenai County Courthouse.
(Full-size photo)

The defendant in Kootenai County’s largest child pornography case was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison Thursday for drugging and sexually abusing three girls and raping an unconscious woman.

As part of a plea agreement, 47-year-old Edmund Bergeman was also charged with and pleaded guilty to possession of sexually exploitative material.

Bergeman also agreed to an interview with FBI profilers. In return for his cooperation, federal prosecutors in Idaho have agreed not to file additional charges against the Twin Lakes, Idaho, man.

Profilers from the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit will travel from Quantico, Va., to interrogate Bergeman.

“We’re trying to understand why he did what he did,” FBI Special Agent Eric Clemensen said following Bergeman’s sentencing hearing. “We know what he did. Now it’s a matter of why.”

Bergeman was arrested in November after a woman went to pick up her 8-year-old daughter from Bergeman’s home and found the girl wearing a short plaid skirt and no panties. A 9-year-old girl also at Bergeman’s home was nude, in his bed.

One victim told detectives that Bergeman had photographed her.

At the time of his arrest, Bergeman’s car was packed full of computer equipment, hundreds of computer discs, computer hard drives and skimpy girls’ clothing.

In court this morning, Chief Deputy Prosecutor Marty Raap displayed a 4-inch binder filled with more than 1,400 pages, printed front and back, listing the files of pornography Bergeman possessed.

So far, more than 15,000 pictures and videos have been counted among the evidence against Bergeman, who worked as an electronics technician.

County sheriff’s Detective Darrell Oyler said it will be weeks, if not months, before detectives are finished sorting through the evidence in the case.

The images will be submitted to a national database to be compared with images of other known child pornography victims. That’s one way investigators will determine whether Bergeman distributed or traded in child porn.

Clemensen said there’s no indication that Bergeman produced the pornography for anyone other than himself.

Raap lauded the investigators, who have spent months reviewing the “graphic, upsetting” material.

“In many photos, the victims are unconscious,” Raap said.

A woman who was raped by Bergeman didn’t know she’d been raped until detectives came to her with photos of Bergeman raping her, Raap said.

The minor victims tested positive for “a cornucopia of drugs,” Raap said. Some of the victims were abused over a period of years, he added, some to the point that they had become compliant with Bergeman.

Chief Deputy Public Defender Lynn Nelson said the defense disputes the scientific accuracy of the drug tests that were done.

Nelson also said there was no indication that he had made the porn for anyone other than himself.

Nelson noted that several members of Bergeman’s family were in court and that Bergeman came from a close family.

“There’s another side of him that’s lost in all of this,” Nelson said. He said Bergeman was a victim of molestation as a child.

The mother of one victim spoke at the hearing, saying she hoped “everything bad that can happen in prison happens” to Bergeman.

She said she had only met Bergeman once and that her daughter was baby-sitting one of the other victims at the time she was abused by Bergeman.

The woman said she didn’t learn her daughter had been abused until detectives told her.

“I always tried to keep my children safe,” she said.

The stepfather of another victim said he hoped Bergeman would come to find Christ.

“He’s there for you,” the man said. “Satan’s been sitting on your shoulder for some time. … I hope you go into the prison system and I hope you make the best of it.”

Bergeman had little to say during Thursday’s hearing and offered no apology for the crimes he committed.

After 1st District Judge John Luster sentenced Bergeman, Nelson asked if the child pornographer could hug his father and sister.

Luster and Raap agreed the family could share hugs, despite strict prohibitions against anyone have verbal or physical contact with criminal defendants in the courtroom.

Bergeman’s father wrapped his arms around his son and kissed him on the cheek. Both men cried. His sister – mother to one of the victims – also hugged him and cried before Bergeman was led out of the courthouse in shackles.


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