Ex-OPS teacher broke 'special trust,' gets 9-14 years for relationship with student

Shad Knutson

A judge has refused to suppress cellphone records that reportedly show thousands of contacts between a former middle school teacher and underage girls.

Douglas County District Judge Duane Dougherty denied Shad Knutson's request to limit the use of the cellphone records in his trial on allegations that he had inappropriate contact with four students, ages 13 to 15, while he was a teacher at Nathan Hale Middle School.

Dougherty ruled that Knutson could have no expectation of privacy when it came to records of the times and phone numbers he called. However, the girls will have to testify to — or vouch for the truth of — the content of any conversations, voicemails or text messages.

Prosecutors say Knutson, a social studies teacher, sent dozens of text messages and made hundreds of phone calls to the girls who, at the time, were either current or former Hale students.

Chief Deputy Douglas County Attorney Brenda Beadle has alleged that Knutson, who was fired, used hundreds of phone calls and text messages to groom the teens into inappropriate relationships — begging some of the girls to send him lewd pictures and groping others.

Knutson had an intense relationship with one girl — exchanging 10,000 phone calls and text messages in just 10 months, prosecutors say.

Knutson is scheduled to go on trial in February on seven felony counts: attempted first-degree sexual assault, soliciting a child by use of a communication device, two counts of child abuse and three counts of third-degree sexual assault involving touching.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charges. If convicted, Knutson, 36, would face up to 125 years in prison.

Contact the writer:

402-444-1275, todd.cooper@owh.com

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