A music teacher from Bend who was assigned to multiple schools in the Bend-La Pine School District has been arrested on suspicion of possessing explicit images of children. A letter sent to parents indicates the children in the images are not believed to be from the local area.
The Bend Police Department says Erik Duane Ekstrom, 35, was arrested Thursday morning. He is facing two counts of first-degree encouraging child sexual abuse.
The district confirmed Thursday afternoon that Ekstrom was hired in August 2021 to work at Highland Magnet School. For the 2022-23 school year, he was assigned to Cascade Middle School, Pacific Crest Middle School and Summit High School.
Police say they received a report on Aug. 11 from the Department of Justice’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program that video showing child sexual abuse had been uploaded and linked to Ekstrom’s digital devices. Other tips came that also directed police to Ekstrom’s digital devices.
Police executed a search warrant Thursday morning at a location on NE Viking Avenue in Bend. Bend Police said multiple digital devices were seized and Ekstrom was arrested.
In a letter to parents, Cascade Middle School Principal Gabe Pagano said the images allegedly in Ekstrom’s possession are not believed to be of local children.
“We take threats to the safety and well-being of our community very seriously and are working collaboratively with law enforcement as they continue this investigation,” the letter reads. “While there is no current indication that Ekstrom’s crimes have a nexus to our students, staff, or schools, we are encouraging anyone with information to contact Detective Ian Macdonell at the non-emergency dispatch line, 541-693-6911.”
According to a welcome letter from the principal of Highland Magnet School posted in Aug. 2021, Ekstrom was identified a Bend native who had spent the previous decade as K-8 teacher in Minnesota.