Ched Evans

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British soccer player found not guilty of rape after retrial

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CARDIFF, Wales (AP) A former English Premier League player was found not guilty of rape on Friday following a retrial, ending a five-year case.

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Ched Evans, a Wales international who has played for Manchester City and Sheffield United, wept and hugged his fiancee after the verdict was given at Cardiff Crown Court.

The 27-year-old Evans admitted to having sex with a teenager in a hotel in north Wales in May 2011 but always insisted it was consensual. He was convicted of rape in April 2012 and released from prison after serving half of his five-year sentence.

The rape conviction was overturned in April following an appeal.

A jury of seven women and five men found Evans not guilty following three hours of deliberations after the eight-day trial.

Evans and his partner stood outside court with supporters as his solicitor read a statement on behalf of Evans.

“That incident did not involve the commission of a criminal offense,” the statement said, “and today I am overwhelmed with relief that the jury agreed.

“Thanks go, too, to my friends and family,” it added, “most notably my fiancee, Natasha, who chose, perhaps incredibly, to support me in my darkest hour. Whilst my innocence has now been established, I wish to make it clear that I wholeheartedly apologize to anyone who might have been affected by the events of the night in question.”

Evans plays for third-tier club Chesterfield, who signed him in June despite a public outcry when he attempted to return to professional soccer with other clubs while his appeal was being heard.

With rape conviction overturned, retrial looming, Evans finds a club

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Facing retrial for rape after the overturning of his previous conviction, Ched Evans has found a new club. He’s signed a one-year deal with League One side Chesterfield.

Evans, 27, went to prison in 2012 and was released in 2014. The striker has long protested his innocence and had a web site dedicated to his innocence.

[ MORE: Follow the entire Ched Evans story ]

The former Manchester City striker was capped 13 times by Wales between 2008-2011, and scored 35 goals in his final season for Sheffield United before his conviction.

His trouble in finding a new club has included everything from fan protests to a stern warning to interested clubs from British prime minister David Cameron.

From the team’s statement:

“Danny Wilson knows Ched very well, having previously managed him at Sheffield United. Chris Morgan, our first team coach, also speaks highly of him from their time together at Bramall Lane. Chesterfield Football Club have given a great deal of thought to this signing and following the court’s decision, we are in no doubt that Ched Evans should be welcomed back into his profession as a professional footballer.”

Evans to face new rape trial in October

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CARDIFF, Wales (AP) A former Premier League player whose rape conviction was overturned will face a new trial in October.

Ched Evans, a Wales international who has played for Manchester City and Sheffield United, appeared in court in Cardiff on Friday and pleaded not guilty to raping a woman at a hotel in May 2011.

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Evans had already served half of a five-year sentence before being released from prison and getting the conviction overturned in April following an appeal.

Evans only spoke briefly to confirm his identity before entering his plea.

The new trial will start on Oct. 4 in Cardiff.

Rape conviction overturned for former Premier League player

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LONDON (AP) A British court has overturned the rape conviction of former Premier League player Ched Evans and ordered a new trial.

The decision was announced Thursday by the Court of Appeal in London.

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Evans, a former Sheffield United and Wales striker, was in the packed London courtroom with his girlfriend when the verdict was read out.

The 27-year-old Evans was convicted in April 2012 of raping a 19-year-old woman at a hotel in Rhyl, north Wales.

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He was released from prison last year after serving half of his five-year sentence.

Evans had always maintained his innocence and took his case to the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

British prime minister issues advice to clubs interested in signing convicted rapist Ched Evans

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British prime minister David Cameron has proffered a fatherly warning to clubs that might want to signed convicted rapist Ched Evans.

The 26-year-old Manchester City youth graduate, Welsh international and prolific Sheffield United scorer has not been able to find work since getting out of prison, where he served time for rape.

[ MORE: Tuesday’s transfer rumor roundup ]

The backlash has been severe for several teams interested in his services, as Sheffield United took heat for allowing him to train with them and Oldham Athletic is the latest English club to hear from sponsors and fans about their interest in the striker who scored 35 goals in 42 appearances during his last season. Malta club Hibernians wanted to sign Evans but the English government would not allow him to work abroad due to his status as a sex offender.

From the Associated Press:

A spokesman for Cameron, speaking under the customary condition of anonymity, says Tuesday “the Prime Minister does think that footballers are role models and he is sure that any potential would-be clubs and employers will weigh their decisions very carefully.”

One of the major problems is that Evans continues to assert his innocence, and has a legal appeal in court.

There’s been a hard line drawn in England on the Evans case, and those who’ve dared to toe it have felt sharp repercussions. The prime minister’s words are not a good sign for the striker.