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Top Stories of 2011: Sex charges stayed against Chilliwack teacher

Sex-related charges against a Chilliwack elementary school teacher were suddenly dropped in August - more than a year after he was arrested and suspended without pay.

Crown prosecutors would not say why they decided to stay the charges just weeks before a trial was scheduled to begin.

Crown counsel Wendy van Tongeren Harvey only 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.

Justice branch spokesperson Samantha Hume told The Progress it is “very common” for the Crown to approve charges, based on the likelihood of getting a conviction, even as a police investigation continues.

But in this case, she said, the investigation continued for 15 more months and then the Crown came to the conclusion that “we did not in fact have a substantial likelihood of conviction.”

Hume was unable to comment on what information changed the Crown’s belief that a conviction was likely.

Meanwhile, teacher Jason Epp, 40, who taught for 15 years in the Chilliwack school district, is still not out of the legal woods.

His case is still before the BC College of Teachers for review to determine if he can keep his licence to teach.

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