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Former Junior Redbirds coach charged with felony child sex crimes

Daniel R. Bengtson

An Elmwood man and former Junior Redbirds football coach faces three felony charges after allegedly soliciting sex from a minor online.

Daniel Bengtson, 32, was charged with sexual assault of child under 16, child enticement and use a computer to facilitate a child sex crime Monday, Sept. 11 in Eau Claire County Circuit Court. He was released on a $2,000 signature bond with provisions that prohibit him from having any unsupervised contact with minor children nor internet contact with anyone under age 16.

Police say Bengtson replied to a Craiglist ad online, thinking he was communicating with a 14-year-old girl. It was actually an Eau Claire detective.

A search warrant issued Sept. 12 confiscated an Apple iPhone and an Apple iPad. According to the complaint, Bengtson and the detective (posing as the minor) exchanged emails and photos and agreed to meet at Carson Park in Eau Claire Friday, Sept. 8. When Bengtson arrived, police arrested him.

Bengtson, who has been a Junior Redbirds football coach for two years (Division 1 first and second grade), arrived at the Redbirds practice Monday evening in Spring Valley and coached, according to Redbirds founder Lloyd Larrieu.

“He (Bengtson) was not there Saturday (Sept. 9) for game day,” Larrieu said. “His wife called Friday and said there was a family emergency. He did not coach Saturday, and I didn’t pry. I don’t pry in family emergencies.”

Larrieu said nobody in the Redbirds organization knew about Bengtson’s charges Monday until close to the end of practice.

“Nobody knew,” Larrieu said. “We started practice like normal. Then someone saw the story on a cell phone and showed me.”

Larrieu said he debated on what to do immediately, as he didn’t want to embarrass a minor member of Bengtson’s family, who was at the practice.

“Nobody knew,” Larrieu said again. “As soon as we found out, we took action accordingly to remove him from the organization.”

When Larrieu went to speak with Bengston at practice, Bengtson had already left. He reached him by phone later that evening and told him he was no longer with the organization. 

He also stressed that he and another Redbirds board member are always at practice supervising, so Bengtson was never with children unsupervised.

Bengtson is scheduled to next appear in court at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 19 for a hearing. If convicted of all counts, he could face at maximum 105 years in prison.

Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in Febraury 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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