(KMSP) - UPDATE -- Sonnenfeld posted bail and was released at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 10. The Anoka County attorney’s office also confirms that investigators received an additional complaint against Sonnenfeld, but determined the conduct described “does not rise to the level of criminal behavior.” No additional investigation will take place on that specific report.
Kenneth Sonnenfeld, a 4th grade teacher at Johnson Elementary School in Blaine, Minn., is charged with second-degree criminal sexual assault after a 10-year-old girl reported he inappropriately touched her during a class. According to the charges, the girl said the alleged abuse goes back to December 2014, when she was 9.
While Sonnenfeld, 52, has a clean criminal record, this isn’t the first time a student of his has reported inappropriate touching.
In May of 1997, a 4th grade girl at Lincoln Elementary in Anoka, Minn. told police her teacher -- Kenneth Sonnenfeld -- had been touching her both over and under her clothes. She reported that it happened at her desk at the front of the classroom -- that it happened "a lot” and she didn't think any other students saw it. But she also said another girl told her months earlier that he’d done the same to her
According to a June 1997 memo from the Anoka County attorney’s office, prosecutors declined to charge Sonnenfeld because when investigators talked to the other girl, she denied it. The girl went on to say the first girl "told her to say (Sonnenfeld) had touched her so that he would get suspended from teaching the rest of the year." She added that the first girl had "complained about (Sonnenfeld) giving her ‘white slips’ and has said that he is mean."
Days later, another 4th grade girl at Lincoln Elementary reported to police the same allegations that "it had happened at least once per day since approximately December 1996." The reasons given in the memo for no criminal charges 19 years ago is that there was no corroborating evidence and that problems with credibility would be obvious to a jury. Prosecutors felt a jury would wonder why no other students saw any of this -- that the first girl had motives to lie, a second girl flatly denied it and a third only came forward after speaking to the first
But the allegations against Sonnenfeld, now 19 years later, are nearly identical.