Craigslist sex for grant money scandal hits Idaho college

Joseph Bekken, the former Financial Aid Director at North Idaho College, was arrested Wednesday after allegedly soliciting sex with the promise of allocating grant money to complying students.

Bekken was placed under a $100,000 bond in Kootenai County Jail after weeks of investigation were spurred by suspicion that he has been offering students grant money in exchange for sex.

Advertisements were posted for NIC students on Craigslist, offering “a proposition” that was tagged with abbreviations of sexual interests such as “M4W,” “M4M,” and “M4MW.”

According to The Sentinel, NIC’s student newspaper, Resource Officer Gus Wessel was contacted by the FBI and alerted to the unethical posts. A three week collaborative undercover investigation with the local police department followed.

Replies were sent from Wessel and Idaho’s Coeur d’Alene Police under the pseudonym “Sheryl Roberts”, a fake student created for the investigation.

“On Jan., 20, Wessel replied to the Craigslist ad, ‘You have my attention :)’,” reported The Spokesman-Review.

As promised, Bekker transferred grant funds of $587 to “Sheryl’s” account and scheduled a meet-up for Feb. 2, 2015 where he was arrested on five felony charges, including soliciting prostitution and misusing public funds.

“[Bekken] is no longer an employee of the college,” President Joe Dunlap announced in a statement. “[O]ur institution's emphasis on compliance with Title IX training requirements for all employees has resulted in a heightened awareness on reporting incidents”

Despite the institution’s “heightened awareness,” Bekken admitted this wasn’t the first time he posted ads soliciting sex and prosecutors are led to believe “this behavior may have been going on for years.”

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