Is accused Canadian professor a victim?

Topical issue

Is accused Canadian professor a victim?

03. 07. 2018 14:17

An investigator from the Police Corps District Directorate in Prešov has completed an investigation concerning a 63-year-old professor from Canada with a proposal to file charges, TASR was told on Monday, by spokesperson for the Police Corps Regional Directorate in Prešov, Daniel Džobanik. As he informed, the Canadian in question has been accused of the crimes of sexual abuse, the illegal possession of arms and arms trafficking and the production of child pornography, along with the misdemeanours of possessing child pornography, participation in a child pornography show and threatening the moral education of youth.

Last week, the independent daily Denník N published a letter that Professor of cultural anthropology at the Thompson Rivers University David Scheffel sent to the editors. The internationally acclaimed anthropologist claims that he has been trapped for reasons he does not understand. He had been doing his research on prostitutes in Roma settlements in the eastern Slovak village of Jarovnice since 2014. The impulse for his detention was a criminal complaint of an 11-year old girl who filed it with her father with whom the youngster lives and does not want to return to her mother. "She accused me of buying her from her mum in order to sexually abuse her and take picture of her intimate parts," wrote Scheffel to the Denník N daily. As he suggested, he might have been a victim of the dispute over the care for the child between the girl's father and mother. Filing the complaint against him might have been done to avoid social guardianship, suggests the anthropologist.

As Scheffel explained in the letter to the independent daily Dennik N, he came deliberately to Slovakia last November after Slovak criminal investigators contacted him by phone. They assured him he is not prosecuted and wanted only another hearing. "It was only later on that I learnt I had been prosecuted since November 6 and that the police should have informed me immediately about the charges against me," wrote Scheffel, adding that the Slovak police did not inform of the charges on the 8th or 9th of November during their phone calls. The Canadian anthropologist was detained in his house in Veľký Šariš on November 10. As he informed the daily, the police sees him as an important culprit who has to be punished in an exemplary fashion. Scheffel has published a book including a chapter on sexual pathology in Roma settlements. "I started research on the phenomena of "Gypsy prostitution", incest and the fact that children give birth to children. Reliable research has not been done in this area in Slovakia," explained Scheffel.

One of his closest research allies is anthropologist Alexander Mušinka, the co-author of the Atlas of Roma communities in Slovakia. They co-operated on a development project in the village of Svinia, eastern Slovakia, financed by the Canadian government in 1998 - 2003. Mušinka is sure that Scheffel had not committed the crime of which he is accused. "In the best case, I find it all to be a huge misunderstanding, and in the worst case, I find it to be a certain plot against him personally or against his work," stated Mušinka for the daily Dennik N. The Canadian expert has been openly supported by the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle, Germany, with many other scientists following this case.

On Monday, the Police Corps Regional Directorate in Prešov Daniel Džobanik informed that "according to the investigation and evidence provided, the accused Canadian as of at least 2009 until the summer of 2017 allegedly touched the intimate parts of six under-age girls from the village of Jarovnice [Prešov region] at a house in the village of Veľký Šariš [Prešov region]. He allegedly lured them to his house under the pretence of a financial reward." If found guilty, the accused Canadian, who is being prosecuted in custody, could be sentenced to between seven and 12 years in prison.

Martina Šimkovičová Foto: Thompson Rivers University

Livestream / Živé vysielanie