WEST FARGO — A new book will feature a woman who accused her now-exonerated West Fargo teacher of having a sexual relationship with her while she was an underage teen more than a decade ago.
The book, “Three Women,” by journalist Lisa Taddeo is set to be released Tuesday, July 9, by Avid Reader Press, a division of publisher Simon and Schuster. The 320-page nonfiction book will focus on the sex lives of three women, including Maggie Wilken, a 28-year-old who said she was 17 when she started having a sexual relationship with her then-English teacher, Aaron Knodel.
“By Maggie’s account, supportive nightly texts and phone calls evolve into a clandestine physical relationship, with plans to skip school on her eighteenth birthday and make love all day,” a summary of the book posted on the Simon and Schuster website said. “Instead, he breaks up with her on the morning he turns 30.”
The book also says she came forward with the allegations after finding out Knodel was named North Dakota’s Teacher of the Year in 2014.
Knodel, who works at Sheyenne High School, was charged in August 2014 with five felony counts of corruption or solicitation of a minor after Wilken accused him of having sexual contact with her in 2009. Details of the accusations emerged during a five-day trial in April 2015 before Knodel was acquitted on three of the charges. The two other charges were dismissed after a judge ruled there was a mistrial.
West Fargo Public Schools suspended Knodel without pay for almost a year, but he was reinstated as a teacher and received back pay. He was a teacher at West Fargo High School when the allegations came to light. When he returned to the school district, it was as a teacher at Sheyenne.
“Three Women” also explores the life of “Lina,” a homemaker in suburban Indiana whose marriage has lost its passion, leading her to a love affair with an “old flame,” Avid Reader Press said in its summary. The third woman featured in the book is “Sloane,” whose husband picks out partners for her to have sex with while he watches. She begins to question the “uneven power dynamics” of their lifestyle, according to the summary.
“Based on years of immersive reporting, and told with astonishing frankness and immediacy, 'Three Women' is a groundbreaking portrait of erotic longing in today’s America, exposing the fragility, complexity and inequality of female desire with unprecedented depth and emotional power,” Avid Reader Press said.
The Forum typically does not identify possible victims of alleged sex crimes, but Wilken gave the newspaper permission in 2015 to do so. The Forum's efforts to reach Wilken for comment on the book were unsuccessful Friday, July 5. Simon and Schuster representatives did not return messages left by the newspaper.
In a phone interview Friday, Knodel reiterated to The Forum he was exonerated of the charges, adding that the West Fargo School Board found he did not violate ethics codes. Beyond that, he declined to comment for this story.