Identity Of Rogue Juror In Aaron Knodel Trial Should Be Made Public

sexual assault

A few days ago we got a report about potential charges against a juror who served in West Fargo teacher Aaron Knodel’s trial.

For those of you not following along, Knodel was accused of having a sexual relationship with a student. He was acquitted, but not before one of the jurors was removed after having some sort of an emotional breakdown and admitting that she didn’t disclose that she’d previously been the victim of a sexual assault.

This juror, at the time, was the lone holdout for Knodel’s conviction. After she was removed the jury went ahead and issued their acquittal on all counts. Knodel, for the record, has been reinstated as a teacher.

But charges may be filed against the juror, as Wendy Reuer reports. But this from the end of Reuer’s report caught my eye:

The Forum News Service is not naming the female juror at this time because she is the victim of a sex-related crime and has not been arrested or charged with a crime.

I can understand the latter part of that justification for not publishing this juror’s name, though I’m not certain I agree. I’d point out that the news media routinely reports the identify of people who do potentially criminal things before they’re formally charged with a crime.

The former justification for keeping this juror’s identity a secret completely baffles me.

That this juror alleges she was the victim of a sex-related crime previously really has nothing to do with her alleged misconduct as a juror. Her alleged status as a victim of a crime unrelated to the Knodel case (I have no way to verify if her assertions of victimhood are true) does not in any way reduce her culpability for whatever transgressions she may have committed as a juror.

That she alleges she is a victim of some previous crime is her justification for her behavior, but it shouldn’t be a shield.

Do the victims rape or other sex crimes, be they alleged or verified, get blanket immunity from scrutiny and criticism? That seems to be where we’re headed in this country whether we’re talking about the war on due process in campus tribunals or misguided “victims rights” ballot measures here in North Dakota.

Consider that the media still hasn’t exposed the identify of the woman known as “Jackie” in the now-infamous Rolling Stone article about a supposed fraternity house rape at the University of Virginia. This despite “Jackie’s” story having been thoroughly exposed as a contrivance. Is it fair that this “Jackie” was able to besmirch the reputation of others, creating no small amount of expense and turmoil, while hiding behind her supposed status as a “victim” which is very much in doubt?

Of course not.

It is my feeling that this woman probably should be charged for her actions as a juror. She did not disclose something, while under oath, she was required to disclose. That lack of disclosure put in jeopardy a criminal proceeding which came at no small cost to the taxpayers and was grueling both for the accused and his accuser. Thankfully Knodel was spared the ordeal of a mistrial and a second proceeding against him, but that in no way reduces the seriousness of this juror’s irresponsible actions.

At the very least, the juror’s actions should be put under the scrutiny of the judicial system.