The 2014 North Dakota Teacher of the Year is now charged with multiple felonies, accused of having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student five years ago.
Aaron Knodel, a 35-year-old West Fargo High School English teacher, was charged in Cass County North Dakota Friday with five counts of corruption or solicitation of a minor, InForum reports.
According to Valley News Live, the criminal complaint says Knodel engaged in sex acts with the teen multiple times in February and March of 2009, including in his classroom.
Earlier this week it was revealed a criminal investigation into Knodel began in February of this year, and he was placed on administrative leave at that time – five months after he received his Teacher of the Year Award.
West Fargo Police Chief Michael Reitan said authorities have shared information with the school "as we have been allowed as the investigation went on," KVRR reports.
The station says the West Fargo School Board will decide Monday whether Knodel should be suspended without pay. His next court date is Sept. 5. Charges of corruption or solicitation of a minor are described in North Dakota law here.
Charges: Relationship started with texts
According to the charges filed, the student said her relationship with Knodel began when he sent her text messages during winter break of 2008, InForum reports. The texts continued and became more personal she said, and in February of 2009 Knodel told the student his wife would be out of town and invited her over, the charges say. The two reportedly had sexual contact while his children were upstairs sleeping, InForum says.
WDAY reports the charges say Knodel at one point told the student he was thinking of leaving his wife.
Their relationship ended on March 9, 2009 when the student said she sent Knodel a text, which the teacher claimed his wife saw, the court documents say according to WDAY.
The Bureau of Criminal Investigation found calls between phones owned by the two increased dramatically in January and February of that year, then ceased after March 9, InForum reports.
KVRR reports an email from Knodel's attorney says the educator passed a lie detector test, and he expects a not guilty verdict at trial.
Knodel, an English teacher and coach, has taught at West Fargo High School since 2004.