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Jury says former Minnesota girls hockey coach not guilty of sex crime for having sex with former players

A former Cottage Grove, Minn., girls high school hockey coach is not guilty of criminal sexual conduct for having sex with two 16-year-old former players, a Washington County District Court jury decided Tuesday.

Eric P. Darwitz, 32, was declared not guilty on two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct. He was charged in connection with an Aug. 11, 2006, incident in which he, along with another man, had sex with two teens he had coached during the 2005-'06 hockey season at Park High School in Cottage Grove.

"Obviously I'm very pleased," Darwitz said after the verdict. "It's been a long 14-15 month process, so it's good to be done."

Jurors deliberated all day Friday, but were unable to reach a verdict, so they returned Tuesday following the holiday weekend.

"The waiting process from Friday to today -- it was nerve-racking," Darwitz said.

The South Washington County Bulletin in Cottage Grove, Minn., is owned by Forum Communications Co.