News

Sex charges dropped against Chilliwack teacher

Chilliwack elementary school teacher Jason Epp is a free man after all sex-related charges against him were stayed by Crown counsel in provincial court Wednesday.

Epp, 40, was arrested on May 12, 2010, shortly after allegations of sexual misconduct were made by two students at Sardis Elementary school.

He was originally charged with six counts of sexual assault, sexual interference of a person under 16 and touching a young person for sexual purpose.

But all those charges were dropped Wednesday following further RCMP interviews with 130-140 students, parents and school staff.

Crown counsel Wendy van Tongeren Harvey told the court that as the police investigation progressed, questions arose and the Crown concluded it had a "legal, moral and ethical duty" to stay the charges.

Harvey declined to detail those questions outside the courtroom, and referred reporters to ministry staff in Victoria.

Defense counsel Claire Hatcher also declined comment outside the court on details of how the Crown's case against her client unravelled.

But she said Epp and his family "maintained his innocence since the beginning" and are "now looking forward to moving on with the rest of their lives."

The charges and the publicity have been "immensely stressful" on Epp, she said, but she could not comment on her client's future as a teacher now that the charges have been dropped.

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