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Knopps gets 58 months

By Staff | Sep 15, 2008

After sitting behind county bars for more than 200 days, a 49-year-old Winnebago man will spend time in prison for sexual misconduct with a child under age 13.

On Thursday, Judge Douglas Richards sentenced Steven Knopps to 58 months during a hearing in Faribault County District Court.

“Mr. Knopps, your actions here are despicable, taking advantage of a 7-year-old child and committing the acts you committed. For that you are going to prison,” Richards said.

In July, Knopps pleaded guilty to third-degree criminal sexual conduct under a plea bargain. He will have to serve at least two-thirds of the prison term.

Knopps had nothing to say prior to being sentenced, but the grandmother of the victim read a three-page handwritten statement.

“With a heavy heart we agreed on a plea agreement. This was just too painful for us to continue on.”

“Mr. Knopps has devastated our family, especially my granddaughter’s father. In his eyes he is her daddy, and daddies always are there to protect, love and make sure no harm comes to the children. Even though he hasn’t, I know he feels like he has failed,” she wrote.

Knopps was originally charged with a serious felony of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a child under age 13, facing a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $40,000 fine if convicted.

The charge stems from an incident that occurred at his home in February, says a court complaint.

At a hearing in July, Knopps admitted to having sexual contact with the child in the bathroom of the house while his wife was baby sitting.

The victim’s grandmother says her family and other families feel very betrayed by the Knoppses.

“They made a decision to let Mrs. Knopps do daycare in their home without letting any of the families know that Mr. Knopps had a prior prison record for a sexual crime,” she read from her statement. “I just want to know why would you do this?”

This is the second time Knopps will do time for sexual misconduct with a child. He was sent to prison in 1983 for a conviction while living in Kandiyohi County.

Roverud says Knopps will get credit for 222 days he has spent in the county jail.

Following his release from prison, he will be required to register as a predatory sex offender and also be placed on supervised probation for life.

A state law recently passed by the Legislature will send Knopps back to prison for life if he violates probation conditions determined by the Department of Corrections, says Roverud.