Freeland man faces indecent liberties charge for alleged 2014 sex assault

A 58-year-old Freeland resident is facing a felony charge for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman while she was sleeping, according to court documents.

Prosecutors charged James E. Knott in Island County Superior Court Nov. 24 with indecent liberties. The charges were filed with special allegations, specifically that the victim was “particularly vulnerable” and that he was in a position of trust. Special allegations can increase the sentence.

The alleged incident occurred in December of 2014. A woman reported that she was sleeping on a couch and woke up to Knott sexually assaulting her, according to a report by a deputy with the Island County Sheriff’s Office.

Afterward, the woman and Knott exchanged text messages in which she tells him that she can no longer trust him because he touched her, saying that his actions were illegal. He apologized many times and asked for forgiveness, the deputy’s report states.

Knott is the former president and commander of the American Legion Post on South Whidbey and came into contact with the woman through the organization. He resigned his post soon after the alleged incident, the report states.

Knott told the investigator that he thought the contact was consensual and denied touching the woman’s genitals. He also said he felt he was in a relationship with the woman.

The woman, however, denied this and said she made a point of keeping him at arm’s reach. She even spoke to a counselor about strategies in handling Knott’s unwanted advances toward her, the report states.