- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 26, 2014

WEST FARGO, N.D. (AP) - The reigning North Dakota teacher of the year has been suspended from his job while a child sex crime case against him proceeds.

The West Fargo School Board on Monday night voted unanimously to suspend Aaron Knodel without pay or benefits, according to WDAY-TV and KFGO radio. He had been on paid administrative leave since mid-February, when the school first learned of the allegations against him. He was criminally charged Friday.

Board member Dave Olson applauded school district officials for the way they have handled the situation, saying the officials “looked out for the best interest of students and staff.”

Knodel is accused of having sexual contact with a 17-year-old female student more than five years ago. Authorities allege that the incidents involving Knodel and the girl happened in February or March of 2009, including twice in a classroom, twice at Knodel’s residence and once in the victim’s car.

Defense attorney Robert Hoy has said Knodel is not guilty and has passed a lie-detector test. He declined comment to WDAY on Knodel’s suspension.

Knodel taught English, speech and debate at West Fargo High School, where he started a student congress and a trivia team. He also served as lead negotiator with the West Fargo Education Association. The teachers union North Dakota United named him the 2014 teacher of the year.

Knodel faces five counts of felony corruption or solicitation of a minor and is due in court on Sept. 5 to enter pleas to the charges. He could face up to 35 years in prison if convicted.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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