Joe Friedrichs

Owatonna man convicted of sexual assault in Cook County

A Minnesota man faces up to 15 years in prison after being convicted of sexually assaulting a Cook County woman at a condominium on Ski Hill Road in Lutsen.

Andrew Donald Knott, 31, of Owatonna, was convicted Dec. 10 in the Cook County Courthouse in Grand Marais of two felony counts of criminal sexual conduct. Knott was also found guilty of an additional gross misdemeanor charge stemming from the incident.

WTIP does not name the victims when reporting on instances of sexual assault.

According to the criminal complaint:

On Jan. 25, 2020, Cook County law enforcement responded to North Shore Health, the local hospital in Grand Marais, where a woman being treated for medical issues reported that she was sexually assaulted. The woman told medical personnel and law enforcement she had been raped.

Deputy Leif Lunde responded to the hospital to take the victim’s statement. The woman told authorities she met Knott and others the previous night and consumed alcoholic beverages at various locations in Cook County. After consuming too much alcohol to drive, the woman became tired and went to rest in a bedroom inside the condominium. The woman said she woke up at some point in the night to a man sexually assaulting her. After describing the perpetrator, Cook County authorities traveled to the condominium in Lutsen and interviewed potential suspects, including Knott. All of those interviewed, including Knott, denied any wrongdoing. Authorities collected a DNA sample from Knott. This sample later matched sperm cells found on the victim’s clothing.

Nearly two years later, a Cook County jury convicted Knott on all charges, including the two felony crimes that acknowledge he “did engage in sexual penetration with another person, knowing or having reason to know that the victim was mentally impaired, mentally incapacitated or physically helpless.”

Knott was taken into custody following the verdict. He remains in the Cook County jail as of Dec. 12.

Sentencing in the case is Feb. 14, 2022.

Cook County Attorney Molly Hicken served as the lead prosecutor on the case. She told WTIP her office is “thankful for the courage the survivor had in testifying truthfully.”

“Any credit for these convictions goes to her,” Hicken said, “and to the thoughtful and difficult work the Cook County jurors accomplished to bring this defendant to justice.”

Upon release, Knott will have to register as a predatory offender, Hicken said.

Hicken noted that while the maximum penalty is 15 years, Knott is unlikely to serve that because sentences in Minnesota are governed by a regulation that sets “the presumptive sentence in this case at 48 months.”

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article noted that Knott faced up to 26 years in prison from the collective charges. The maximum amount of prison time is 15 years due to the same course of conduct in the charges, according to the Cook County Attorney’s office. ​