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Former childcare provider pleads guilty to misdemeanor

By Staff | Jan 31, 2009

A Winnebago woman whose husband is in prison for sexually abusing a 7-year-old girl in their home while she was baby-sitting has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge.

Melanie Knopps, 48, was charged with operating a daycare center without a license and appeared in Faribault County District Court on Tuesday.

Judge Douglas Richards asked Knopps if she had a license to operate a daycare.

“No, I was working on it,” she told Richards.

The grandmother of the victim says Melanie Knopps has never shown any remorse or contacted anyone she baby sat for to apologize.

“It’s so unfair and sad. It’s an injustice. In everybody’s eyes she’s just as guilty as he was,” she says.

Under state law, a daycare provider’s license can be denied for criminal offenses, including conviction of criminal sexual conduct. During the licensing process a background check is conducted of all people in the facility.

The grandmother says abuse of her granddaughter is something that could have been prevented.

“We all trusted her. She lied to us and led us to believe she was a licensed daycare,” she says.

A sentencing date for Knopps will be scheduled, following a pre-sentence investigation that will include any victim statements.

Knopps faces a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Steven Knopps, last September, was sentenced to 58 months for sexual misconduct with a child under 13.

It’s the second time Knopps has been sent to prison for sexual misconduct. In 1983, he was convicted in Kandiyohi County for criminal sexual conduct with a relative’s child.

In February, Knopps was originally charged with first-degree criminal sexual misconduct with a child under 13. In a plea bargain, he pled guilty to third-degree criminal sexual conduct.

According to a court complaint, the charges stemmed from an incident that occurred in the Knoppses home in February 2008.

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

Although she’s disappointed Melanie Knopps didn’t face a more serious charge, the grandmother of the girl says she’s happy the ordeal is over.

“When it’s all said and done, she’s (Melanie) going to have to answer to God. She allowed one of his children to get hurt,” she says.