By Gretchen Schlosser, Forum Communications Co., Published February 24 2010
Trial dates set in church assault caseWILLMAR, Minn. – Jury trial dates for Aug. 17-20 were set Monday for the Wisconsin sex offender accused of beating, sexually assaulting and robbing a 73-year-old woman in November at a rural church.
Lindon Roy Knutson, 61, also has a pre-trial hearing set for April 12 in Kandiyohi County District Court. A pretrial hearing was conducted Monday afternoon, with attorneys in the case meeting in chambers with District Judge Michael J. Thompson.
Knutson lists a Bemidji address but has spent much of the past 30 years in Wisconsin prisons or institutions. He is being held on $500,000 bail in the county jail. He faces four felony charges: first-degree criminal sexual conduct, first-degree aggravated robbery, third-degree assault and theft in connection to the Nov. 22 incident at the Crow River Lutheran Church in rural Belgrade.
According to Wisconsin Department of Human Services records, Knutson admitted to sexually assaulting nine juveniles, an adult woman and female prisoners of war while in Vietnam with the U.S. military. He was sentenced to prison in 1975 for raping a 17-year-old girl in St. Croix County, Wis., and civilly committed in 1999 until released in March 2009. He was arrested by Beltrami County officials two weeks before the local incident and was charged with a felony for failing to comply with sex offender registration guidelines. He was released on a $2,500 bond three days later.
According to court files, authorities were called to the church, about five miles south of Belgrade, on a report that a woman had been assaulted. A passer-by had taken the woman to Paynesville Hospital. The woman gave officers a description of Knutson and his vehicle. She had given Knutson a tour of the church and directions to Bemidji before he is alleged to have physically and sexually assaulted her.
Knutson was arrested in Cosmos after the city’s police chief stopped his vehicle for a traffic violation and realized Knutson and his car matched the descriptions given by the woman.
Gretchen Schlosser is a reporter at the West Central Tribune of Willmar, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.