Torrington, Wyo. (Story by Denise Heilbrun-Ellis) February 10, 2021 — A plea agreement set up for Gregory Lee Knudsen of Hawk Springs, Wyo., was refused by the special judge presiding over the case, the Honorable Judge Dawnessa Snyder of the Second District Court of Carbon County, on Wednesday afternoon in Eighth Judicial District Court in Torrington.
Judge Snyder told Knudsen and people in the courtroom, that these were serious charges, and she couldn’t agree to the plea agreement. She gave Knudsen a one- time chance to change his plea, and then the case would go to trial with all original counts going forward. Knudsen visited with his attorney, Craig Silva, then agreed to change his plea of no contest.
The plea agreement stated Knudsen plead no contest to counts one, four, seven, eight and 10.
Counts one and seven are third degree sexual assault with counts four, seven and 10 being stalking.
According to Silva’s agreement set forth for Knudsen, he would agree to a suspended sentence of four years, or six years on the felony charges with each count to run concurrently. And, on the remaining misdemeanor charges Knudsen will agree to a six-month suspended sentence on each count, which will all run concurrently. For the two, third degree sexual assault counts Knudsen would be placed on a three-year supervised probation, for each count to run concurrently. For the three stalking charges he would receive six months suspended sentence, to run concurrently.
According to the plea deal, Knudsen would have served no form of incarceration, including but not limited to county jail, community allowance or penitentiary.
Prosecuting attorney Kevin Taheri asked the court if she wanted an impact statement read to the court from a victim that she hadn’t received. The Judge allowed her to read the four-page statement.
Former Torrington resident Kelly Haeffelin told the court that she had went to Knudsen for counsel and she got anything but. She said that Knudsen lied and made-up situations within her case that terrified her.
She added he was the same attorney who she couldn’t afford the retainer and was told “that we could figure something out when or if it became necessary.” And he was the same attorney who became like Jekyll and Hyde of sorts, I never knew who I could get on each given day.
“It wasn’t until I read the provisions of Mr. Knudsen’s plea agreement, that the case got my full attention,” Haeffelin said. “I also learned that of all the original charges, the only one remaining that pertained to me was a misdemeanor stalking charge. I learned that the third-degree sexual assault wouldn’t stick because my daughter didn’t see it happen. This is exactly why I left Wyoming. It has stirred up emotions and I’ve been forced to speak about it and for what?”
She added instead of granting such a reduced sentence, his should be hasher.
She concluded with, “It makes no sense to allow such provisions to a man well educated with the knowledge that what he was doing was wrong. Should Mr. Knudsen be held at a high standard? Absolutely!”
Knudsen, who had a private law practice in Torrington, was charged with three third degree sexual felony counts of assaulting women in his office according to court documents, and a felony count for burglary, plus six misdemeanor counts, five stalking and one unlawful contact.
The Wyoming Supreme Court issued an order disbarring Torrington attorney Gregory L. Knudsen effective July 15, 2019. The order of disbarment stemmed from Knudsen’s conduct in entering a consensual sexual relationship with a client; failing to withdraw from the client’s representation promptly upon entering the sexual relationship; advising the client to conceal evidence of the relationship in the legal proceeding; and knowingly making a false statement of material fact to Bar Counsel regarding the existence of the sexual relationship after a complaint was filed with the Wyoming State Bar.
Judge Snyder told Knudsen she would get with both counsels to set a trial date.