First Posted: 1/22/2014
HANOVER TWP. — “Don’t kiss and tell.”
That’s what an 18-year-old high school student said a teacher told him after the pair allegedly performed oral sex on each other.
The teen, a student at Hanover Area Junior/Senior High School, was testifying at the preliminary hearing of Hanover Area social studies teacher Edward M. Evans on Wednesday morning. District Judge Joseph A. Halesey ruled that the case will proceed to a formal arraignment, which will be on April 4 at 9 a.m. in the Luzerne County Courthouse.
Evans, 33, of Main Road, Hanover Township, faces two counts of institutional sexual assault. He is the son of Hanover Area School Board President Evelyn Evans and has been on unpaid leave pending a termination hearing.
“The Commonwealth is pleased that we were able to present enough evidence to the judge for him to determine to hold the charges to court,” said Jenny Roberts, assistant district attorney.
Under questioning by Roberts the teen said he spoke with Evans to get advice and to talk about men in the area. That conversation turned personal, and the teen said they continued to talk about men in the area and his fear of possibly having HIV. The conversations were “brief” ones at the school, the teen said.
He said the two agreed to meet via text message, but it was Evans’ “spur-of-the-moment” idea to meet. The teen said he could not remember a specific date, but said it was on a Sunday in March 2013.
He said Evans picked him up at a local restaurant near the teen’s house so his father would not notice. At Evans’ house, the teen said, Evans showed him paperwork about HIV while in Evans’ bedroom. The two started watching television, when the teen said they kissed, took off their clothes and performed oral sex on each other.
Evans’ attorney, William Ruzzo, asked why the teen decided to approach Evans for advice. The teen said he trusted Evans and thought he would be a good person to talk to.
He said he told the school’s guidance counselor, Michelle Zapotoski, that he had been talking to Evans. He also said he talked to Zapotoski about the incident once after he met with Evans.
Ruzzo questioned the teen’s credibility, asking him what he told his guidance counselor. The teen admitted that he told Zapotoski a different version of what had happened. Ruzzo also asked if the teen initially told arresting officer Dean Stair it didn’t happen, and the teen said yes. He said he spoke with Stair three times and, at least once, told a different version of the events. He also said he provided two written statements, each with a different account.
The teen said the version he gave to the Hanover Area School Board was truthful, but he admitted he told other people untruthful accounts of what happened.
“I lied to save his job,” he said.
Ruzzo called the alleged victim’s testimony “incompetent” in his closing statement. “The witness admitted lying numerous times to numerous people,” he said.
Roberts stood up for the witness, saying victims of sexual assault tend to recant due to the pressure put on them and the consequences of the situation.
“I would say that the issues that we have in this case are not dissimilar to issues in the vast majority of sexual assault cases, especially cases involving younger victims,” Roberts said.
Ruzzo declined to comment after the trial. He left the courtroom with Evans, who said they would “take care of it in a couple of months,” but declined to comment further.
The alleged victim also declined to speak after the hearing.