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Juror in West Fargo teacher sex case lied about past abuse, mistrial possible


The case of a North Dakota teacher accused of having sex with a student could be heading for a mistrial after a juror holding out for a conviction was revealed to have failed to disclose she was a past victim of sexual abuse.

The West Fargo Pioneer reports that the female juror was taken to the hospital on Wednesday morning after becoming disoriented in court and told deputies that she was the "lone holdout" for a guilty verdict in the case of English teacher Aaron Knodel.

The juror told the Cass County deputies that she had been a previous victim of sexual abuse but had not told anyone, and that she did not answer a jury selection question truthfully as a result.

WDAY reports on its Facebook page that the juror indicated she was having mental issues that stemmed from her past experiences, and that "she felt the need to protect children."

Knodel, who was named the 2014 North Dakota Teacher of the Year, is on trial for five counts of felony corruption or solicitation of a minor, after being accused of having sex with one of his students in 2009, when she was 17.

The remaining 11 jurors said they had unanimously found Knodel not guilty on three of the five counts, Valley News Live reports, with the remaining two counts undecided.

As a result of the juror's removal, Judge Steven McCullough said there were grounds for a mistrial, and a prosecutor told Valley News Live that they intend to file for one, which will give the judge up to 30 days to make a decision.

The West Fargo Pioneer notes that because a verdict was only reached on three of the five counts, the prosecution can ask for a mistrial on all counts, or only on the two that remain undecided.

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