WILKES-BARRE — A Luzerne County jury has found a teacher in Luzerne County accused of sexually assaulting a student not guilty.
The jury deliberated for about two hours in the sex assault case against the Hanover Area High School teacher. It went to the jury after closing arguments wrapped up Wednesday morning.
Edwards Evans has been suspended from his job as a social studies teacher at Hanover Area High School since January when authorities charged Evans with institutional sexual assault for allegedly engaging in sex acts with a male student at the teacher’s home in March 2013.
Evans says he will fight to get his job back after he was acquitted of having a sexual relationship with a student.
After the verdict, one juror said the teacher from Hanover Area may not have committed a crime, but he did cross the line.
Edward Evans was relieved after two tense hours waiting for a verdict.
“It’s been a long seven months and I’m just looking forward to getting my reputation back.”
A jury inside the Luzerne County Courthouse found the 34-year-old teacher not guilty of two counts of institutional sexual assault.
“I thought the teacher was incredibly stupid for taking a kid to his house,” said jury foreman Jeffery Lotz.
Lotz says Evans admitted to bringing the student to his house when the teen asked for advice but the teenager’s claims of a sexual encounter did not hold up and there was no evidence of any crime.
“I know I walked away doing the right thing, absolutely. There was nowhere near enough evidence to convict that guy.”
“In this case it was the commonwealth’s position; it was beyond bad judgment to take a student into your house and into your bedroom. So he was charged with a criminal act,” said Luzerne County Assistant District Attorney Jenny Roberts.
Prosecutors say they stand behind the accuser but with an acquittal, there’s little more they can do.
“It’s a very unique case but we just hope that this does not deter anyone from actually coming forward in the future.”
Newswatch 16 asked Evans if he plans to get his job back at Hanover Area.
“Absolutely,” Evans replied.
In a statement emailed to Newswatch 16, the Hanover Area superintendent said the school district will now do its own investigation before deciding if Evans’ suspension will be lifted allowing him to return to class in the fall.
The accuser in this case, now 19, left in tears and did not want to answer questions
Evans was charged under a relatively new law for teachers or coaches accused of inappropriate relationships with students over the age of 16.