Students: Ex-OPS teacher Shad Knutson put suggestive requests on Post-Its - Omaha.com
Published Saturday, March 2, 2013 at 2:00 am / Updated at 12:47 am
Students: Ex-OPS teacher Shad Knutson put suggestive requests on Post-Its

Three girls have testified so far in Douglas County District Court against their former social studies teacher, Shad Knutson.

Three Post-It notes, found in Knutson's classroom garbage can, had something to say, too, in the third day of his trial.

The students said Knutson, a former Omaha Public Schools middle school teacher, often wrote on Post-It notes, sometimes asking for inappropriate photos or acts. He then would crumple up the sticky notes and throw them in the trash.

School officials looking into one student's complaints found these notes crumpled in Knutson's garbage can:

“Last night was awesome R U mad?”

“Tell me ... Then u can have it.”

And this: “You gonna let me feel”

Public Defender Tom Riley argued that prosecutors had no foundation for the notes — and couldn't even say for certain that Knutson wrote them or that, if he did, he was referring to students.

Prosecutors, meanwhile, said the notes further demonstrated Knutson's inappropriate contact with his students. The notes often followed comments or actions in which Knutson would seek out either lewd pictures or sex acts from the girls, ages 13 and 14, prosecutor Brenda Beadle said.

A third student testified Friday that Knutson promised her a B if she sent him a picture of “these.” Knutson pointed at the girl's chest in a photo, she said. She said she was wearing a tank top in the photo.

Unlike the other students who have testified, Knutson's antics didn't last for long with the third student, who was 14 at the time.

Knutson, 36, has pleaded not guilty and is expected to testify.

A jury of three men and nine women will decide whether he's guilty of two counts of child abuse, two counts of sexual contact and one count of enticing a child with an electronic device. If convicted, he would face three to 70 years in prison. (Knutson originally was charged with seven felonies, but prosecutors have dropped two.)

Two other students have testified that Knutson, an eighth-grade teacher, made similar promises, sexual advances and obscene gestures toward them when they were 13.

Riley, who has pulled no punches with the girls, picked at the third student's account. He noted her disciplinary record at the school — which was littered with a number of reprimands and at least one suspension.

The girl said Knutson was the problem, not her. She said she caught Knutson scrolling through pictures on her phone during class one day.

On another day, she asked to go to the bathroom. Knutson asked for her phone. She took her battery out and gave it to him because, she said, she didn't want him scrolling through her pictures again.

He told her to give him the battery, too, or he'd refer her to the office. She said she'd take the office referral.

She told her mom, who had her write down what happened on a piece of paper.

“Mr. Knutson said, 'I want this one.' He points at my (breasts) in a picture (and says) 'I want these,'” she wrote, according to prosecutors.

Soon after, the girl said, she had to go to Knutson's class after school to make up a standardized test. She went up to Knutson to ask him a question. He said he couldn't help her.

However, she said, he held up a bright orange sticky note. (Administrators never found that note.)

This is what it said, according to the girl: “If you send me a picture, you'll get a B.”

The girl said she was disgusted and refused. She stormed out of Knutson's room, without finishing the test, and went home, she said.

Why?

“I don't feel like a teacher should be talking to a student like that,” the girl testified.

Contact the writer: 402-444-1275, todd.cooper@owh.com

Contact the writer: Todd Cooper

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

Todd covers courts and legal issues for The World-Herald.

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