She's 16 now.
Back then, she was 13 and, as she called it, well-developed. At least physically.
Emotionally, she was far from it.
It was squarely in that uncertainty of adolescence — adult physically, child emotionally — that an adult named Mr. Knutson stepped in, the girl said.
The girl — the second of four alleged victims of former OPS middle school teacher Shad Knutson — testified Thursday that she was a new girl at school and she was beyond flattered by the attention Knutson paid her.
At the time, she was a big girl, unsure of herself and her looks. She was running the hill one day outside Nathan Hale Middle School.
When she came inside, Knutson, her social studies teacher, made a comment about how much her breasts were bouncing. So much that he said he had to cover his eyes, then peek through his fingers to get a second look, he said, according to the girl.
“I was actually kind of surprised,” the girl testified Thursday, the second day of Knutson's trial. “But I liked it. I didn't get talked to like that. That was one of the things I was thirsty for, that I wanted.”
Knutson poured it on. In the office or during activities after school, he told her: You're beautiful. You're pretty.
“Just a lot of things that made me feel better,” she testified.
Her voice broke.
“It made me feel a lot better about who I was,” she said, fighting tears.
The compliments soon turned to the corruption of a child, prosecutors said.
Knutson kept pushing. He came up with a plan, she said. Use your phone to take a picture of your breasts. Then come in class and start texting and I'll seize your phone, Knutson told her.
She did. But that wasn't enough, she said. He asked her to expose her breasts in a bathroom entryway, while he stood in the hallway. She did.
Later, he asked her to flash him in the empty classroom — just after school ended. And she also did it in the front of his room.
Another time, he felt her breasts over her clothing. And then he pulled down his shorts and exposed himself. Still another time, he pressed his crotch to her face. Still another, he asked for oral sex.
Did you tell anyone?
“No,” she said. “I didn't want it to end.”
Later, though, she said: “I was more confused. I was always thinking about Mr. Knutson. I didn't care about my grades, my family, anything. My life was falling apart. I didn't want to stop thinking that somebody cared about me. I didn't want to stop thinking that news flash. Hearing those words when you're a girl who's overweight and no one's interested in you, I didn't want it to stop.
“It was too good to be true, basically.”
Finally, she said her parents drew it out of her. She said she went to school officials, including Principal Susan Colvin.
The result: The girl was transferred to a different school.
Knutson's attorney, Douglas County Public Defender Tom Riley, said it was because the girl caused disruptions on the bus, at school, during activities. In turn, Riley said, OPS officials found the girl's allegations to be false.
The girl had a different reason. School officials believed a teacher over a child, she said.
“I can't express to you how betrayed I was,” the girl testified. “They removed me from the school but they didn't remove him. ... I was mad. I was so mad.”