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Former teacher escapes civil liability for sexually assaulting underage student

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PIERCE COUNTY, WI (WTAQ) - A former substitute teacher in western Wisconsin has escaped civil liability, after she was criminally convicted of sexually assaulting a student who was 13 at the time.

Pierce County jurors deliberated for over 3 hours before ruling that Jacob Brekken and his father were not entitled to civil damages.

44-year-old Anne Knopf of Prescott spent nine months in jail and was put on probation for five years, after she was convicted in 2008 of second-degree sexual assault.

Brekken and his father then filed a civil suit seeking $400,000 for battery, emotional distress, and defamation. Knopf countersued, claiming partial negligence by the boy’s parents for not intervening right away.

A circuit judge and an appellate court threw out her claim.

After a three-day trial this week, jurors ruled that Knopf did not intend to have offensive contact against the child, or to harm the youngster – and she did not act maliciously toward her family.

The woman’s attorney, John Runde, said it was a case that should have never been brought – and he questioned why the victim was not in court.

Forensic psychologist Marc Ackerman of Milwaukee told the Journal Sentinel that Brekken – who’s 19 – was now in college. Ackerman said the teen has no friends, and he remains reluctant to get therapy that would help him.

Ackerman also questioned the verdict, asking how an adult can have sex with a 13-year-old and it’s not intentional. 

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