RUSHVILLE, Ind. — Not guilty was the verdict in the trial of Garry Evans in Rushville. Evans is a former pastor who was accused of sexually assaulting six children under the age of 8.
“I’ve been found not guilty but it still hurts,” Evans said. “I [feel] like at any moment somebody’s going to come and get me.”
It was an open and shut case for the jury who acquitted Evans of all the charges against him after just 40 minutes of deliberation. Evans had been offered a plea deal to avoid a trial, but refused, insisting he was innocent and that the case be taken to trial.
This “petrified” his lawyer Jud McMillin, in spite of his shared confidence that his client was not guilty.
“We can preach all day about the presumption of innocence, but we’re starting a 100-yard race 50 yards behind when the jurors are brought in and they’re told these types of allegations,” he told WISH-TV. “So it was the scariest trial I’ve ever done.”
The case against Evans was built on misinterpreted hearsay and “confirmation bias,” according to McMillin.
The investigation began when a three-year-old girl had said that Evans had sexually assaulted her in 2017. McMillin said the accusation made the rounds on social media and led parents in the community to talk to their children about sexual assault.
Soon after, four more girls accused Evans of sexual assault, two of which were a pair of sisters who McMillin said told identical stories of there encounters as if they had been coached.
He added the girl who made the initial accusation against Evans was even given a line up of men in which Evans was placed directly in front of her.
“They bring her in and despite of putting Garry right in front of her, she doesn’t pick him out,” McMillin said. “They asked her directly 19 times and she doesn’t pick him out.”
“What we were really able to show the jury is that before the investigating officer really knew what was going on, [authorities] made conclusions about what they thought was going on,” McMillin continued. “They had this narrative of ‘bogeyman in the closet’ that just wasn’t true.”
Moving forward, McMillin and Evans are mulling the possibility of suing the county.
“I’ve been trapped for two years, not able to get out of my house,” Evans said. “I was gone at prison for seven months, innocent, knowing that I did not do it. It hurt real bad and it’s still hurting.”
Evans added the whole ordeal saw he and his wife be separated for the first time in their 53 year marriage, during which he also couldn’t see any of his 14 grandchildren.
WISH-TV reached out the lead investigators in Evans’ case but could not be reached for comment.