Child rape suspect arguing to have youth’s sexual history included at trial

By Patrick Kernan - [email protected]
Evalynn Buchanan Evalynn Buchanan -
Jason Buchanan Jason Buchanan -

WILKES-BARRE — Attorneys battled on Monday over whether or not a teen’s prior sexual history can be admitted in the trial of a man accused of assaulting her.

Jason Buchanan, 38, of Nanticoke, is facing charges of rape of a child, statutory sexual assault, sexual assault, unlawful contact with a minor, corruption of minors, and two counts each of aggravated indecent assault and indecent assault.

He allegedly assaulted the youth for more than seven years, from the time she was 8 until she was 15, when she came forward to police in December 2017.

His wife, Evalynn Buchanan, is facing two counts of endangering the welfare of children. She allegedly ignored multiple phone calls from police and packed up the couple’s belongings prior to charges being filed. They were later found at a relative’s residence in Dushore, Sullivan County.

The couple’s attorney, Michael Butera, argued before Luzerne County Judge Michael Vough on Monday that evidence regarding the girl’s prior sexual history should be allowed during the trial.

This would require a court order to circumvent rape shield laws, which typically prevent the introduction of evidence regarding an alleged victim’s prior sexual history unless it can be proven to be absolutely material to the case.

Butera argued that it wasn’t truly the alleged victim’s sexual history that was important, but rather what he suggested was a pattern of lies about it. Butera said the girl made comments about her sexual history to several people that differed from what she told counselors during investigation into the Buchanans.

“How is that relevant?” Vough asked.

“It’s not relevant; the fact that she lied about anything is what’s relevant,” Butera said, arguing that it goes against the alleged victim’s credibility.

Assistant District Attorney Angela Sperrazza argued that court precedent suggests that any evidence such as this is always prejudicial, likely to immediately prejudice the jury against the alleged victim.

Vough indicated that he would issue an order about the motion at a later date, but he did indicate that he would be severing the charges against the couple, meaning that they would no longer be tried as co-defendants in the same trial.

Instead, the trial against Jason Buchanan is scheduled to start on Monday, Oct. 29. Evalynn Buchanan’s trial will begin immediately after the completion of Jason Buchanan’s trial. Vough said he believes both trials can be completed within the same week.

The couple are both currently out on bail, with Jason Buchanan posting 10% of his $100,000 bail, and Evalynn Buchanan having posted 10% of her $25,000 bail, both in April 2018.

Evalynn Buchanan
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/web1_Evalynn-Buchanan-01292018.jpgEvalynn Buchanan

Jason Buchanan
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/web1_Jason-Buchanan-01292018.jpgJason Buchanan

By Patrick Kernan

[email protected]

Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan

Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan