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Published January 17 2012

Day care provider pleads guilty to lesser charge

FARGO – A former West Fargo day care provider accused of choking her boyfriend’s adolescent son pleaded guilty to a reduced charge Tuesday in Cass County District Court.

Kristina Lee Bjorem was initially charged with felony aggravated assault in connection with a May 13 incident in which police say she choked a boy who was either 10 or 11 years old. She pleaded guilty to contributing to the deprivation of a minor, a Class B misdemeanor.

Bjorem, 41, received a suspended one-year prison sentence and was given credit for four days served in jail. She must serve two years of supervised probation, complete 180 hours of community service within six months and undergo a psychological evaluation and follow the treatment recommendations.

Judge Douglas Herman also ordered Bjorem to have no contact with children under age 12 except for her biological children.

Bjorem could be allowed to have contact with the victim and his brother, both of whom were living with her and her boyfriend at the time of the incident, but only if the children, a psychologist and her probation officer agree to it, Assistant Cass County State’s Attorney Reid Brady said.

The victim told police that Bjorem choked him in a hallway to the point that he blacked out for about five seconds, the police report states. Other children at Bjorem’s in-home day care were in the living room when the incident occurred, the report states.

Bjorem told police the boy was upset about a game and had been kicking and hitting her. She said at the time that she didn’t think she had choked the boy but couldn’t remember, the police report states.

Bjorem and her attorney, Patrick O’Day, declined to comment Tuesday.

Attorneys offered a joint sentencing recommendation, noting that Bjorem sought counseling right after the incident.

Bjorem hasn’t provided day care services since the incident, according to Cass County Social Services.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528