An online sting led to the arrest of a former youth soccer coach who allegedly came from the Twin Cities to Hudson for sex with a teenager.
St. Croix County sheriff’s deputies were waiting Dec. 20 at a pre-arranged Carmichael Road location when 43-year-old Jason J. Berger arrived after having a months-long email exchange with an undercover officer posing as the victim.
Prosecutors charged the Vadnais Heights, Minn., man with second-degree attempted child sexual assault, attempted child enticement and using a computer to facilitate a sex crime. He was held on $5,000 cash bond after his initial court appearance Dec. 23 in St. Croix County Circuit Court.
A criminal complaint states Berger told investigators he had been a youth soccer coach at Nova Classical Academy in Vadnais Heights until he had an argument with the head coach. A spokeswoman from the school referred questions about Berger’s employment status to a human resources official who did not respond by Friday, Dec. 27, afternoon.
Terms of Berger’s bond prohibit him from coaching youth sports or being in contact with minors unless another adult is present.
According to the complaint:
A sheriff’s deputy launched an Internet Crimes Against Children investigation Oct. 22 by posting a fictitious profile to a website known for sexual hookups. A user later identified as Berger responded three days later.
The undercover deputy told Berger he was a 15-year-old boy.
Over the course of several weeks, the email exchange led to sex talk, with Berger eventually proposing graphic sex acts with the child.
After telling the fictitious victim that he was a coach, Berger later said, “He has never done anything with any of his players,” according to the charging document.
A meet-up was arranged around noon Dec. 20 in Hudson . Officers arrested Berger, who was toting a duffel bag, without a struggle.
A search of the duffel bag revealed items including women’s lingerie, high heels and fake breasts. Deputies searched his vehicle and found a Nova Classical Academy JV coach’s evaluation form with Berger’s name on it, as well as a paystub from the school bearing his name.
The undercover deputy said there were about 500 emails in the exchange with Berger.
In an interview with investigators, Berger admitted the person he had been emailing was 15 years old. He told the officers he had never “met with” minors before and that he hadn’t exchanged photos with the fictitious persona.
A pretrial conference was set for Jan. 10.