- Associated Press - Friday, February 20, 2015

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho (AP) - The former financial aid director at North Idaho College is accused of offering scholarship money to students in exchange for sex.

Joseph M. Bekken, 36, was charged Thursday in 1st District Court with attempting to procure a prostitute, attempting to misuse public money, bribery, using a computer in a scheme to defraud and burglary.

Bekken, who has been fired, was being held in the Kootenai County Jail on $100,000 bail on the felony charges.

“This is conduct that has been going on for many, many years,” Kootenai County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jedediah Whitaker told Judge Scott Wayman.

Whitaker said that Bekken came to North Idaho College in 2010 from his previous job as a financial aid counselor at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona.

Police said Bekken at North Idaho College advertised on Craigslist for several semesters and agreed to meet a female student at a Coeur d’Alene apartment complex on Feb. 2.

But it turned out to be an undercover sting that authorities set up by creating a fake student account and then responding to Bekken’s advertisement.

Police say Bekken agreed to be interviewed by police on Feb. 2 and said he’d also been using Craigslist in Arizona to set up sexual encounters. He said, police reported, that when he moved to Idaho he got the idea to trade scholarship money for sex.

Bekken told police he hadn’t successfully arranged any such encounters. Bekken is married and has four children.

Whitaker, the prosecutor, in statements made in court on Thursday left it unclear why Bakken left Grand Canyon University in Phoenix. The school didn’t return a call from The Associated Press on Friday.

Judge Wayman denied Bekken’s request for a public defender, noting the job he had at North Idaho College had paid him about $74,000 a year. It wasn’t clear Friday if Bekken had hired a private attorney.

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