Mistrial declared in former ND Teacher of Year's sex case

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A former North Dakota Teacher of the Year could face a new trial on charges of having sex with an underage student.

Thursday a judge declared a mistrial on two of the charges against Aaron Knodel, KVRR reports. The ruling opens the door to a retrial, though prosecutors did not immediately say if they would request one, the station says.

Knodel, 36, was charged last summer with five counts of corruption and solicitation of a minor. Prosecutors said he'd had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old female student at West Fargo high school in 2009.

Knodel's trial began on April 22. After five days of testimony, jurors were in their third day of deliberations when one member of the panel became disoriented and was taken to a hospital. She reportedly told deputies in the ambulance that she had lied during jury selection by saying she'd never been sexually abused.

The Fargo Forum reports that when deliberations were halted, all 12 jurors had agreed to acquit Knodel on three of the counts.

Thursday's ruling by Cass County District Court Judge Steven McCullough means Knodel could be tried again on the two remaining counts.

The Forum notes that McCullough's ruling is a rejection of the argument by defense attorneys that a new trial would amount to double jeopardy (being tried twice for the same crime) which is prohibited by the Constitution.

Knodel was named the 2014 Teacher of the Year by North Dakota United.

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