Knudsen to be resentenced on February 4

Paul Knudsen (right) embraces his wife after he was convicted of sexual abuse in Grundy County in 2017. Due to a subsequent Iowa Supreme Court ruling, he is eligible for resentencing, and a hearing is scheduled for next Monday. (Grundy Register file photo)

A rural Cedar Falls man who was convicted of sexual abuse in Grundy County in 2017 and sentenced to life in prison will be resentenced on Monday after an Iowa Court of Appeals opinion issued in November ruled that it could not be determined whether he entered into a prior offense stipulation knowingly and voluntarily.

           

Paul Knudsen, now 40, has been incarcerated since the dramatic four-day trial in Grundy Center two years ago, which included graphic depictions of the aforementioned acts over a period of several years. A jury took less than an hour to return a guilty verdict on three counts of Third Degree Sexual Abuse (each a Class C Felony) and one count of Lascivious Conduct with a Minor, a serious misdemeanor.

 

The Court of Appeals rejected the evidentiary complaints (including a claim that the victims had previously been abused by a separate perpetrator who wasn’t mentioned due to “Rape Shield” laws) and charges that the state suppressed expert testimony in Knudsen’s motion, filed by State Appellate Defenders Mark C. Smith and Vidhya K. Reddy. It did rule, however, that a sentencing enhancement resulting in a term of life imprisonment—due to a prior sexual abuse conviction 11 years earlier—would be reversed and that “on remand, Knudsen may enter into a new stipulation regarding the prior offense compliant with Harrington (a case establishing precedent) or may choose to proceed to trial to determine whether he meets the enhancement requirements.”

 

“The question on appeal is not whether [the defendant] suffered no prejudice because evidence existed to establish the prior convictions, but whether [he] knowingly and voluntarily admitted the prior conviction,” the court wrote. 

 

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