Graphic arts teacher Christine Knudsen escapes prison sentence after admitting to having sex with female high school student, 17, who was in the drama club she oversaw
A former teacher has been filmed learning she will not face jail time after admitting she had sexual relations with a student.
Christine Knudsen (46) was instead given a three-year suspended sentence for her bad sexual relationship with a then 17-year-old girl for several months in 2017 and 2018.
Knudsen, heard snorting while being reprimanded for her behavior, was also told by a New Jersey judge that she will now be on parole for the rest of her life.
The former graphic arts teacher at Fair Lawn High School will also have to register as a sex offender, and is prohibited from having any contact with the victim.
In exchange for a guilty plea, prosecutors asked that the second-degree felony be sentenced as a third-degree sentence, and with the suspended sentence, Knudsen will only be sent to prison if she violates her parole.
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Christine Knudsen (46) from New Jersey was given a three-year suspended sentence on Wednesday for her bad sexual relationship – with a then 17-year-old female student in September 2018
The former graphic arts teacher at Fair Lawn High School will also be required to register as a sex offender, and is prohibited from having any contact with the victim
A violation would see the teacher, who was also forced to surrender her Garden-sate teaching certificate, serve the aforementioned three years, Bergen County prosecutors said — plus whatever time was imposed for the initial offense.
“You are hereby sentenced to three years in the state prison in New Jersey, to be suspended,” state Superior Court Judge Nina Remson said, six months after Knudsen pleaded guilty to the unlawful sexual relationship.
“You are also sentenced to comply with Megan’s Law registration requirements and parole supervision for life,” the lawyer continued, referring to US laws that require Knudsen to register as a sex offender for the foreseeable future.
“I’m going to give you a document indicating where you’re going to report to parole,” Remson added.
“I’m also going to execute the Nicole’s Law restraining order, and you’ll get a copy of that in a moment as well.”
Knudsen donned a face mask for the proceedings and could be heard sniffling during the judge’s statement, which referred to another federal law that prohibits her from having any contact with the victim, who is now at least 22.
“You must have no contact with the victim, whose initials are NK – of course you know who that is,” Remson repeated in a spiel that would eventually see her give the disgraced educator some slack.
“You are banned from her residence, school, workplace, (and) you are prohibited from having any oral, written, personal, telephone, electronic or any other form of contact with her,” she continued.
Knudsen, while under fire for her behavior, was also told by a New Jersey judge that she will now be under parole supervision for the rest of her life after surrendering her license to teach
“You are hereby sentenced to three years in the New Jersey State Penitentiary, to be suspended,” state Superior Court Judge Nina Remson said before seemingly cutting the convicted sex offender some slack and reiterating that the garden state’s age of consent is actually 17.
‘And you are prohibited from making or causing any harassing communication with the victim, from stalking the victim, from threatening the victim.
“Do you understand that?” she asked – to which Knudsen, sitting next to her lawyer, replied: ‘Yes, Your Honour.’
“You have already surrendered your teaching certificate, which is ordered as part of this sentence,” Remson added before bringing the hearing — and case — to a close.
However, she first referred to allegations that the educator consumed controlled substances with the student, who she allegedly met while she was head of a drama club the girl was apart of.
Prosecutors have not released more information about the drugs or what they are, but have accused the graphic arts teacher of ‘supplying and consuming the controlled dangerous substances with the student.’
“I’m also going to have you do a task evaluation, which is to determine if you need any substance abuse treatment, given what I saw in the sentencing report,” Remson said during the sentencing.
‘I don’t know if it’s an issue at the moment, but it was referred to in the report that there was some past behavior that was concerning in that regard.
“So, if any treatment is recommended, you must comply with that treatment.”
The relationship happened between January 13 and November 11, 2017. Knudsen admitted, after she was a teacher at the school for 21 years and was appointed head of the drama club, where she met the student who later became one of hers. classes
Remson would go on to concede that the relationship would technically have been legal had it not occurred in a school setting between an instructor and student.
That’s because the victim was 17 at the time, and the age of consent in the Garden State is 17.
That said, given the context of Knudsen’s crimes and her position of power over the teenager, the victim was considered a child for the admitted sex offender’s sentencing.
“Parents send their children to school every day, trusting that they will be safe in the care of their teachers,” Remson said.
“And there is a very strong need to deter not only Ms. Knudsen, but all citizens from violations of the law, especially of this nature involving a breach of trust between the teacher and the student.”
The lawyer added that children can be easily influenced, especially with someone older and in a position of authority like Knudsen was.
She added that Knudsen – a staff member at the school for about 21 years before the scandal – not only should have ended the relationship when it started at the start of the 2017 school year, but it should never have started at all not.
“We do not understand that there are any allegations of current misconduct,” Fair Lawn Schools Superintendent Nicholas Norcia said in a letter to parents following Knudsen’s arrest in 2018. He has since resigned after the circumstances of the relationship was revealed in a complaint.
At Knudsen’s previous trial in July, she told the court how she met the teenager between the months of January and November 2017, when she was assigned to oversee a drama club the victim belonged to.
She acknowledged how the relationship between her and the student turned romantic and eventually sexual during that period — a relationship that Assistant Prosecutor Stephen Bollenbach called disturbing because of its duration.
“These allegations are disturbing,” Bollenbach said of the months-long arrangement, which fell apart after police received a series of tips from unidentified bystanders.
‘Not only did the accused engage in criminal sexual activity with a student, she also breached the public trust through this behaviour.’
On Wednesday, he called the plea deal “justice tempered with mercy” and said he was glad the teacher’s sentence required her to forfeit her teaching license, essentially ending her career.
“So while this is certainly not a victimless crime — far from it — I hope that Ms. Knudsen is deterred forever,” Bollenbach said.
‘I think it’s in the best interest of the community as a whole and certainly for the students.’