MEDINA — The owner of a Liverpool Township diner was sentenced Thursday to 18 months in prison for engaging in sexual conversations with high school-aged employees.
James Knott, 48, of Wellington, pleaded guilty in October to attempted use of a minor in nudity-oriented material or performance, a third-degree felony, in Medina County Common Pleas Court. He originally was charged with illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material or performance, a second-degree felony, which was reduced as part of a plea deal.
Charges stem from incidents in February-March 2015, according to court documents. Knott had asked an 18-year-old woman who was employed at Knott’s Family Diner, 6699 Center Road, in a text message to “see her beautiful body,” Knott’s attorney, David Sheldon, said in court.
According to a June 12, 2016, report from the Medina County Sheriff’s Office, another victim, a 17-year-old girl, reported she had been receiving sexual text messages from Knott.
“I apologize to the victims, their families, my family and the community,” Knott said in court Thursday.
“I wish I could go back to that day and not been a horrible boss. I didn’t mean anything that I said.”
Anita Spacek, who serves as a victims advocate at the county prosecutor’s office, said she had a “brief (phone) conversation” with one of the victims Thursday morning.
“She said she ‘would like (Knott) to learn his lesson,’” Spacek told Judge Joyce V. Kimbler.
Kimbler gave Knott credit for three days served at the Medina County Jail and ordered him to register as a Tier II sex offender.
“This was not an isolated situation,” Kimbler said to Knott. “You misused your position of trust and power to take advantage of young girls.
“You have a public and private face and those who knew your public face would never believe your private face,” Kimbler continued. “But your private face is what brought you here today.”
Knott, who has owned the diner since 2012, has no prior convictions in Medina County.
In 2002, he served eight months in the Lorain Correctional Institution after being convicted of theft by deception, a fourth-degree felony, in Lorain County Common Pleas Court. He also had to pay a $450 fine.
Contact reporter Halee Heironimus at (330) 721-4012 or firstname.lastname@example.org.