Former judge sentenced to jail, probation in sex assault cases
TORRINGTON — Disbarred attorney and former municipal judge Gregory Lee Knudsen has been ordered to report to the Goshen County Detention Center in Torrington on June 1 at 5 p.m. after he chose to enter into a plea agreement with the prosecution on April 27.
Special District Judge Dawnessa Snyder presided over the change of plea hearing in the Eighth Judicial District Court of Goshen County in Torrington on Tuesday afternoon. Knudsen’s defense attorney, P. Craig Silva appeared in the court to represent Knudsen while the state of Wyoming was represented by special prosecutor Kevin Taheri.
Taheri explained the plea agreement to the court. Under the provisions of the plea agreement, Knudsen would enter no contest pleas to counts one and eight, offenses of sexual assault in the third degree, and be sentenced to four to six years in the Wyoming penitentiary, suspended in favor of three years supervised probation.
Knudsen would also enter no contest pleas to counts four, seven and 10, offenses of stalking, and be sentenced to 180 days of incarceration per count, to be served consecutively; meaning he would be sentenced to 540 days or 18 months of imprisonment. He would also be given credit for one day of time served.
Additionally, counts two, three, five, six and nine would be dismissed.
Under the agreement, Knudsen would be ordered to turn himself in to the Goshen County Detention Center on June 1 by 5 p.m.
Taheri also asked the court to consider assessing costs of prosecution against Knudsen. If the request were granted, Knudsen would pay the state $579.06, the amount of expenses inccured by the state to have a victim, K.H., testify before the court during Knudsen’s first sentencing proceeding.
In addition, the state requested Knudsen be assessed costs of counseling for another victim, M.S., which were not covered by crime victims’ compensation. The restitution requested to be paid to M.S. amounted to $1,800.
Taheri noted the pre-sentence investigation (PSI) report listed a request for reimbursement by Knudsen to the crime victims’ compensation fund in the amount of $1,977.50, as well. Taheri speculated this was because of funding limits in place by the crime victims’ compensation fund and victims’ services.
Silva told the court Knudsen would not fight the restitution but would like to be heard on the matter concerning costs of prosecution.
Silva argued the court had allowed K.H. to appear in a lot of different ways. He said K.H. had been given the options of writing to the pre-sentence report writer or appearing by video.
Rather, K.H. chose to appear in person and give her victim impact statement in-person to the court, thus incurring expenses.
Silva said K.H.’s testimony did not advance the state’s case, but rather advanced her own interests. He argued that since the testimony didn’t advance the state’s case, the costs shouldn’t have to be paid by the defendant.
Silva said he agreed with Taheri’s presentation of the plea agreement but wished to stipulate Knudsen’s ability to be present at his grandchildren’s school events, as the school district allows.
Snyder asked Taheri if he intended to have any victim impact statements presented to the court. Taheri said he had one victim, P.F., who would like to speak. Snyder told the court P.F. would be allowed to present a victim impact statement to the court.
Snyder swore in Knudsen and went back over the terms of the plea agreement with him. Knudsen said he would agree to the plea agreement as it was presented. Snyder then went through counts one, four, seven, eight and 10, asking Knudsen how he would like to plea to the offenses.
Knudsen pleaded no contest to all the counts presented.
Victim P.F., who appeared by video, then voiced her victim impact statement before the court. P.F. told the court, “he gravely used and abused his position of great power, knowledge and trust against me. He consciously chose to drive fear, assault and lasting trauma into the lives of the women who he victimized though calculated, manipulated, altered schemes of the law.”
She explained how Knudsen had chosen to ignore the law because he was “of the law.” She further described Knudsen’s abuse of power and the infliction of trauma upon his victims.
“He insistently implored physically, mentally and verbally, countless times, for me to engage in sexual intercourse with him. I did not want any of this,” she said.
P.F. said felt as though she was “trapped on a bridge between loathed compliance or detriment to my case, my future and my daughter’s future.”
“I never wanted any of this,” she avowed.
After P.F. provided her victim impact statement to the court, Taheri told Snyder the court needed to consider probation and parole as the state believes the disposition to be “fair to all sides.”
He told the court one and one-half years in jail was “not insignificant for a 72-year-old individual that’s never been to jail.”
Taheri also noted Knudsen would have to register as a sex offender, would have to submit his deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and would have to pay restitution and costs.
Silva asked Snyder if she was planning on agreeing to the terms of the agreement. Snyder said she would be agreeing to the terms presented with one exception. She said she would be sentencing Knudsen to five years of probation, rather than the previously mentioned three years, in addition to his time of incarceration.
Snyder asked Silva if Knudsen would be willing to accept this change. Silva conferred with Knudsen and told the court Knudsen had told him that would not be a problem.
Snyder asked Knudsen if he would like to make any statements of allocution before the court, but he chose to remain silent and not make any statements.
“I still don’t think that you get it,” Snyder told Knudsen. “On behalf of every woman whose life you affected; you don’t get it.”
Snyder explained how Knudsen held a position of vested power and trust in the community and had “broken the system” with his insolent behavior.
“You’ve broken that trust…it cost them (the victims) even more,” she said. “I hope at some point, that you spend the time you’re going to spend incarcerated thinking about what you did to their lives and taking away from them the trust that they deserve to have in some of the hardest times in their life.”
Snyder told the court she felt probation was only appropriate in Knudsen’s case after he had spent time in jail thinking about his actions, behavior and what he had done.
Snyder told Knudsen he would not have any contact with any of the victims, or their immediate family, in any manner. She said he would not be allowed to post on social media, write about the victims or communicate to other persons about the victims, other than in his treatment programs.
“if you see any of them in the grocery store, it is your obligation to leave and run the other direction,” she said. “It is your obligation, not theirs, to be as far away as possible from them.”