In a bizarre bit of news from up north, the financial aid director at North Idaho College has been arrested and charged with soliciting sexual favors on Craigslist in return for student financial aid grants. Joseph Bekken was arrested today on five felony charges, including attempted misuse of public funds, attempted procurement of prostitution, burglary, using a computer in a scheme to defraud, and bribery. The arrest was the result of a joint investigation by the Coeur d’Alene Police, the FBI, NIC and the Kootenai County prosecutor’s office.
NIC officials said Bekken was fired Feb. 2 and the college is cooperating fully with law enforcement in the ongoing investigation. “The individual charged in this case is no longer an employee of the college and has not been since the issue first came to light,” NIC President Joe Dunlap said in a statement. “North Idaho College has worked alongside law enforcement from the very beginning of the investigation. I am grateful for the knowledge and training of our staff, which resulted in a swift and decisive response to this incident.”
Don Soltman, North Idaho member on the state Board of Education, who was in Boise for a board meeting today and tomorrow, said, “I’m just shocked. … This is very much an anomaly, and I just don’t know what to say.” He noted that the Coeur d’Alene community college has an excellent reputation. “Everything has been so positive,” he said.
State board spokesman Blake Youde said, "Obviously this is a very serious allegation. ... It's a police matter at this point - they are clearly taking action." Bekken was hired in 2010; he previously was a college financial aid counselor in Arizona. You can read our full story here at spokesman.com.