Man arraigned in Gibson Co. on statutory rape charge

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GIBSON COUNTY, Tenn. — A 22-year-old man, accused of statutory rape, pleaded not guilty to the felony charge that could land him on a sex offender registry list. Tuesday morning, Matthew McKnight pleaded not guilty in front of a Gibson County judge on a statutory rape charge. He is accused of having a sexual relationship with a then 16-year-old girl. “Anybody that knows Matthew knows this can’t be true,” said McKnight’s friend Crystal Sakarakis, who sat next to him in court. She said she wanted people to know exactly what a statutory rape charge meant, because she does not believe McKnight is a violent offender. “A statutory rape charge is basically a sexual charge with a minor and the age difference between the two is greater than or four years,” said Lt. James Wilson with the Trenton Police Department. Wilson is not investigating the case, but said he has handled many statutory rape cases that pass through his office. “It is a consensual sexual encounter between an adult and a minor with the age difference,” Wilson said. McKnight’s family friend said the parent of the victim knew about the relationship. “That does not matter as far as the charge is concerned,” Wilson said. McKnight is free on bond, but the judge reminded him there should be no contact between him and the alleged victim. The district attorney’s office said it is possible there are more victims, and they expect them to come forward. McKnight’s family friend said that will not be the case. “Allegations going around that this has been going on for years with multiple victims, both of those are untrue,” Sakarakis said. The district attorney’s office said if convicted, McKnight could spend up to two years in jail. He is scheduled for court Dec. 16.

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