Photograph By TELEVÍZIA MARKÍZA

B.C. university professor gets seven-year sentence in Slovakia

TRU instructor David Scheffel was found guilty of sexual abuse and illegal weapon possession

  • Jun. 21, 2019 10:30 a.m.

Kamloops resident and Thompson Rivers University professor David Scheffel, who was facing a raft of charges in Slovakia, has been sentenced to seven years in prison, Slovakian media outlets are reporting.

Earlier this week, a Slovakian court in Prešov found Scheffel guilty of sexual abuse and illegal weapon possession — an old unloaded rifle given to him by his father — and struck down charges concerning child pornogrophy, said Ivan Somlai, a friend and colleague of Scheffel’s who has been in contact with his lawyer.

“On one hand, the court approved our claim that there was no crime related to child pornography, but on the other hand, the sexual abuse is problematic due to the circumstances under which it allegedly happened,” said Scheffel’s lawyer Daniel Lipšic, as quoted by TV Markíza.

Scheffel, who is a permanent resident of Canada, but has Dutch citizenship, maintains his innocence.

READ MORE: B.C. professor jailed in Slovakia

He has spent years studying child prostitution in the Roma settlements of eastern Slovakia and believes the charges brought against him are trumped up and an attempt to brand an advocate of the Romani people as their enemy.

Somlai said Scheffel and his lawyer have launched an appeal and intend to prepare the appellate brief once the written decision is handed down by the end of the month.

One of the main issues for the defence, Somlai said, is that while the court found the testimonies of minor witnesses credible, there was no opportunity for cross-examination.

An article in the Slovak Spectator also noted the judge deciding on the case took into consideration only the testimonies which had been done without Lipšic’s presence.

“They do feel they have an extremely strong reason for a successful appeal,” Somlai said.

Having stayed abreast of his friend’s case from Kamloops, Somlai said he hasn’t heard of any assistance coming from the Canadian government, despite having written various letters to lawmakers, pointing out the assistance permanent residents like Scheffel are afforded.

“Absolutely zero,” Somlai said when asked for government’s response. “I think the government is absolutely pre-occupied with China, with Huawei, with Trump — anything other than humanitarian assistance.”

Somlai has also expressed frustration with local Conservative MP Cathy McLeod, who he described as being seemingly uninterested in communicating with regard to Scheffel.

“If she has tried or done anything, it remains a secret,” Somlai said of McLeod.

“Considering we are dealing with an EU member country, it is highly improbable that well-briefed representatives of Canada, in various positions, could not provide some useful support.”

A call to McLeod for comment regarding the Scheffel verdict yielded a call from a staff member in her office who said McLeod was en route back to Kamloops and wasn’t able to comment without permission from Scheffel’s family.

During a townhall meeting at TRU in January, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said there isn’t much his government can do in terms of consular support as Scheffel is a Dutch citizen, but noted his officials have been “working very closely with Dutch authorities to make sure he’s getting all the support he can in the situation he’s in right now.”

Trudeau, however, did not elaborate as to what that work has entailed.

Scheffel has told KTW that while he was in prison, he was visited by the Dutch ambassador to Slovakia, who assured him Dutch authorities were doing everything they can, but that they cannot question Slovak police and judicial procedures since they are required to comply with EU standards.

READ MORE: B.C. prof granted bail, but remains behind bars in Slovakia

Scheffel said his lawyer met with Heidi Hulin, the Canadian ambassador to the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Scheffel has been detained in Slovakia for nearly two years, having been arrested in November 2017 when he took a flight from Canada to speak with police in Prešov regarding the accusations against him.

He was jailed for 10 months before being released on bail last fall, with the condition he wear an ankle monitoring bracelet. Scheffel told KTW his family was able to visit him at Christmas, which brightened his spirits.

Scheffel, however, was jailed again earlier this year after allegedly being in contact with a witness, according to Somlai and the Slovakian Spectator article.

That article stated that during the trial last summer, a psychologist evaluated the testimonies of several Romani girls, who claimed Scheffel touched them and took their nude photos. The psychologist said the testimonies were trustworthy. Lipšic pointed to contradictions in their testimonies.

Lipšic asked the court to include Scheffel’s recordings with the girls.

“They will confirm that fabulation and lies are present in the relevant part of their testimonies,” Lipšic said, as quoted by the private broadcaster TV JOJ.

He also doubted, in part, the psychology expert’s report since she did not get later testimonies and recordings.

Scheffel has rejected all the accusations, adding mothers of the girls also testified in his favour at one of the last hearings.

TRU sent KTW a statement, saying the university administration is aware of and monitoring the situation, but that it is unable to provide further comment due to privacy laws.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Roller derby in Houston

The Bulkley Valley Roller Derby (BVRD) league hosted their first ever derby… Continue reading

Northern B.C.’s Ridley coal terminal sold, Canada divests, First Nations to own portion

Ten per cent of shares transferred to the Lax Kw’alaams Band and the Metlakatla First Nation

Recreational fishing for sockeye salmon in the Skeena River watershed temporarily closed

Effective July 11 recreational fishing will be banned until further notice

Skeena mainstem closed to recreational sockeye

Escapements expected to be below 800,000 threshold

B.C. to begin increasing coastal log export charges

New fees based on harvest cost, cedar no longer exempt

VIDEO: B.C. MLA Michelle Stilwell takes first steps in nearly 30 years

‘It actually felt like walking. It’s been 27 years… but it felt realistic to me’

Report of dead body in B.C. park actually headless sex doll

This discovery, made at Manning Park on July 10, led police to uncovering two other sex mannequins

Grand Forks fire chief found to have bullied, harassed volunteer firefighter: report

WorkSafeBC, third-party human resources investigation looking into allegations complete

Dog recovering after being drenched in hot coffee, B.C. man charged

Man was taken into custody, charged, and released pending a court date

Taekwondo instructor, 21, identified as B.C. bat rabies victim

Nick Major, 21, an instructor at Cascadia Martial Arts in Parksville

Science expedition to Canada’s largest underwater volcano departs Vancouver Island

Crews prepared for a two-week research mission to the Explorer Seamount

B.C. shipyard to get one-third of $1.5 billion frigate-repair contract

The federal government has promised to invest $7.5 billion to maintain the 12 frigates

Worried about bats? Here’s what to do if you come across one in B.C.

Bat expert with the BC Community Bat Program urges caution around the small creatures

B.C. on right road with tougher ride-hailing driver rules, says expert

The provincial government is holding firm that ride-hailing drivers have a Class 4 licence

Most Read