Former Pittsburgh Public Schools teacher found not guilty of sexually assaulting student

PITTSBURGH — An Allegheny County jury found a former Pittsburgh Public Schools teacher not guilty after he was accused of sexually assaulting one of his students.

“I’m just glad to be… free,” James Ziegler told Channel 11.

It’s been a year and a half since an elementary student at Pittsburgh Faison accused a 4th grade teacher and newly-appointed vice principal, of sexually assaulting him.

Ziegler had been a teacher for 20 years.

>> Pittsburgh Public Schools teacher accused of sexually assaulting student

After a three-day trial, James Ziegler now wants to close that chapter of his life with the jury’s not guilty verdict.

“It’s the worst nightmare for a teacher or administrator, and I lived it publicly,” he said.

Back when the allegations became public, the boy told investigators that Ziegler had sexually assaulted him during lunchtime detention during the first few months of the school year.

Ziegler’s defense attorney, Blaine Jones, argued there was a lack of evidence that proved his client is guilty.

“In this case, it was strictly he said/she said. And in my opinion, the government didn’t have it all wrapped up,” Jones said.

Jones was also critical of the trial’s lack of media coverage, and that Channel 11 was the only TV station to cover the verdict.

“When this happened, he was on every channel. It made national news. Now, where are all the cameras?” Jones added.

Since the accusations, Ziegler has been on leave from his job at Faison, and has been driving for Uber to pay his bills.

“I suffered a lot of loss because of being on unpaid administrative leave from my position and it was quite scary. I’m here and we made it to this point, and we got a not guilty,” Ziegler said.

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