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Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014

Nephi teacher found not guilty in sexual abuse case

By McKenzie Romero, Deseret News

Published: Fri, Aug. 8 6:46 a.m. MDT

 A Nephi teacher charged with molesting a former student was found not guilty in a jury trial Thursday.

A Nephi teacher charged with molesting a former student was found not guilty in a jury trial Thursday.

(Shutterstock)

NEPHI — A Nephi teacher charged with molesting a former student was found not guilty in a jury trial Thursday.

A jury found Hadley Christensen, 39, not guilty Thursday evening following a four-day trial. Jury deliberations lasted a little more than two hours, court records indicate.

The teacher and wrestling coach had been charged in January 2013 with aggravated sexual abuse of a child, a first-degree felony. At the time, Christensen had 11 years' experience teaching elementary school in Juab County, including teaching fifth grade at Red Cliffs Elementary.

The charges were filed following a sleepover with Christensen's daughter and her 11-year-old friend at his Nephi home on Dec. 22, 2012. Christensen was the friend's fifth-grade teacher last year.

The girl claimed Hadley gave her a strange pill for a headache and that she awoke to find him touching her inappropriately during the night. Doctors at Primary Children's Hospital said they discovered "physical evidence that could have been caused by the abuse as she described it to them," and antidepressants in her system, court records state.

— McKenzie Romero

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1. Blue and White
Provo, UT,
Aug. 7, 2014

This article seems a little incomplete to me. Just seems strange to say he was cleared by the jury and to end with alledged evidence against him. I don't know either party involved or the full story but it seems to me that his reputation doesn't need to take anymore lumps by basically saying "well, he was cleared, but we'll only describe how he got here in the first place, not the evidence that helped the jury make a decision". Not a good situation for any one involved because it puts both the child's and the teacher's reputation on the line. Hope it works out as best as possible for all involved.

2. Midwest Mom
Soldiers Grove, WI,
Aug. 8, 2014

So the court finds the man "not guilty," but the DN decides to cast doubt.

3. Tdurden
Salt Lake City, UT,
Aug. 8, 2014

You know it is a great article when more of the comments are about how bad the article itself is. The writer and DN were very irresponsible with this approach. All this article did was make it seem like they let a guilty man go. It would be helpful to add some information as to why he was found innocent and if you don't have that info at least don't just state the evidence against him.

4. Christina
Logan, UT,
Aug. 8, 2014

I emailed the author. It looks to me like she didn't upload the entire story. Unless it is just very poor reporting.

5. Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah,
Aug. 8, 2014

I agree that the article was poorly written, with the "twist" coming at the end. Surely the reporter and the editor knew better than to publish that story as written.

There is one misconception that needs to be cleared up. The jury found the defendant "not guilty". He was not pronounced "innocent". There is a huge difference between "not guilty" and "innocent". "Not guilty" simply means that the jury did not agree with the State when the State claimed that the crime had been committed. "Innocent" would mean that defendant had done nothing that the State claimed that he had done. A judge instructs a jury to arrive at a verdict based on the evidence presented in court. If there was no evidence or if the evidence was poorly presented, and if the jury followed the judge's directions, the jury would have had to find the defendant "not guilty".