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Jurors award nothing to teen sexually assaulted by teacher

In a verdict reached Wednesday, Jan. 16, a Pierce County jury awarded no monetary damages to a teenager who was sexually assaulted by a female substitute teacher when the boy was 13.

In July 2008 Ann Knopf, now 44, Ellsworth, pleaded guilty to second-degree sexual assault of child related to encounters with the Prescott boy in 2007 when he was a middle school student. She was sentenced to nine months in jail and five years on probation.

In October 2008, the boy's father filed a civil suit on behalf of his son against Knopf and her husband, claiming the woman's actions "passed the boundaries of decency and (were) utterly intolerable to the civilized community" and that her husband had a duty as a homeowner, spouse and parent to avoid exposing the boy to risk of harm in the Knopf house. The husband was later dismissed from the case.

This week after a three-day trial, jurors answered a 21-question verdict form, finding that Knopf's conduct was "extreme and outrageous," but awarding nothing to the boy or his father for intentional infliction of emotional distress or for punitive damages.

Jurors found that Knopf did not intentionally cause offensive contact with the boy and that she did not intend to cause emotional distress to him or his father but that she did cause emotional distress to both of them.

For more, please see next week's print editions of the Pierce County Herald or the River Falls Journal.

Judy Wiff

Judy Wiff has been regional editor for RiverTown’s Wisconsin newspapers since 1996. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and sociology from UW-River Falls. She has worked as a reporter for several weekly newspapers in Wisconsin.