WILKES-BARRE — A jury Wednesday found Edward Evans not guilty of having sex with a student and the foreman said he would have added something else when reading the verdict.
“I wanted to say, ‘We the jury find the defendant very stupid, but not guilty,’” said Jeff Lotz.
Evans, 34, was accused of taking an 18-year-old male student home on the afternoon of March 10, 2013 where they performed oral sex on each other and masturbated. Police applied a recently changed law to charge the social studies teacher at Hanover Area junior-senior high school with institutional sexual assault, even though the student was legally an adult.
Lotz of Conyngham said he coaches female students and would never take one of them home.
“He’s stupid,” Lotz said of Evans.
But the case hinged on who was telling the truth and there was reasonable doubt all around during the hour-long deliberations, he added.
“Not one of us could ascertain if anything ever happened,” Lotz said.
On the witness stand Tuesday, Evans of Hanover Township testified he called the student, picked him up and drove him to his house in order to give him pamphlets and information about sexually transmitted diseases, HIV testing and other medical concerns the openly gay student had.
“I did not have sex with him,” Evans said.
He declined comment after the verdict and referred questions to his attorney William Ruzzo.
Ruzzo cast Evans as a caring teacher who did what others in his profession have been doing for years.
“He took an interest in a student,” Ruzzo said. ” He made the mistake of being too good.”
Ruzzo found nothing out of the ordinary with them meeting at Evans’ house.
The real victim here is Evans, Ruzzo said, adding he’s lost his reputation in the community. He’s gotten back his freedom with the acquittal, the attorney said.
Assistant District Attorney Jenny Roberts said the office and the victim are very disappointed with the verdict.
“This obviously was a very unique case where the victim came forward and then recanted the statement and then came forward again,” she said. Knowing that, there was no hesitation on the prosecution’s part of proceeding with the case, she said.
Roberts who along with Hanover Township Detective Sgt. Dean Stair prosecuted the case, said she hope that the verdict “doesn’t deter anyone from actually coming forward in the future.”
As for Evans’ career, Hanover Area superintendent Andrew Kuhl said the district will not take any action regarding Evans until it looks at all the information in the case.
See Thursday’s Times Leader and timesleader.com for more on this story.