Former Canaan man sentenced to 10 years for sexual assault

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 12/2/2019 9:58:51 PM

OSSIPEE, N.H. — A former Canaan man who sexually assaulted his 9-year-old granddaughter is going to prison for at least 10 years, according to Carroll County prosecutors.

John Knott Jr., 63, who was found guilty in October of aggravated felonious sexual assault, was sentenced to 15 to 30 years during an appearance at Carroll County Superior Court last week, according to a case summary. 

Carroll County State’s Attorney Michaela Andruzzi said that she agreed to suspend five years of that sentence if Knott completes a sex offender program while in prison. He’s also ordered to have no contact with his granddaughter, and he’s required to register as a sex offender for life when he gets out of prison.

“This kind of crime has an irrevocable effect (on the victim),” Andruzzi said in a phone interview Monday. She added that the 15-year sentence is not unusual in a sexual assault case involving a young victim, and that Knott’s granddaughter was especially vulnerable because she’s autistic. “He should have to live with the consequences.”

The victim’s mother, Alonda Peterson, who is Knott’s daughter, addressed him in court Wednesday. She read from a prepared statement that she provided to the Valley News this week. 

“There isn’t one of us that wants you to ever be free again,” Peterson said in the statement. “We are sick about the thought of running into you in some unexpected location, having to look over our shoulders constantly and watching our backs.” 

Peterson asked the court to impose the maximum sentence on Knott, saying both that she’s worried about him befriending other people with young children, and that he deserves punishment. 

“If you could do this to a little girl who is your own granddaughter, what could you do to someone else’s child?”

Messages left for Lisa Wellman-Ally, an attorney who represents Knott, were not returned. 

Knott’s trial and sentencing stem from an incident in 2017, when Knott was supposed to be caring for the girl during a vacation at the family’s North Conway timeshare condo. Peterson went to police a month after the incident, saying that her daughter had told her about the assault. 

Peterson has since been vocal in her support of sexual abuse victims, especially after she tried to get a restraining order against her father on behalf of her daughter but was denied. Until this past summer, people could only get restraining orders for themselves, not another person. This year she pushed lawmakers to pass a bill that would allow parents or guardians to take out restraining orders on behalf of their children. The bill was passed in June, Peterson said, although she is awaiting the official signing.   

In an interview Monday, Peterson recalled the pain and confusion her daughter felt in the immediate aftermath of the assault. She had trouble in school, and she spoke almost exclusively in movie quotes, unable to convey or communicate how she was feeling, Peterson said. When she did tell her mother, everything changed. Now, Peterson said, her daughter is a different child — one who loves school and gets excited to talk about her day.

But in the statement directed at her father, Peterson noted how close her daughter came to never regaining her sense of self. 

“All this was delayed because of you,” Peterson said. “All that time lost. I feel like if not caught, she would have been lost forever.”

Anna Merriman can be reached at or 603-727-3216.

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