Slovak MP who is also a Romani community member accused of sexually abusing a teenaged girl, claims he is innocent
Ján Herák, an MP in the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovakia, has been accused of the crimes of sexually abusing a minor and endangering a minor's moral development and has resigned from the OĽANO movement's club in the unicameral legislature. He categorically denies the accusation and is consulting an attorney about his next steps.
The politician is accused of having sexually abused a 14-year-old girl last year at a summer camp; he has been involved in organizing such camps for children for the last 15 years. Most of the children attending those camps have come from child welfare institutions, single-parent families, or socially excluded localities.
The director of the child welfare institution where the alleged victim is being cared for filed a criminal report against the MP. Police have been working on the case since the close of last year and have charged him with three felonies.
The girl told authorities that Herák gradually groomed her by sending her gifts, such as an expensive mobile phone, earrings, or brand-name sneakers. He is alleged to have provided her with financial assistance as well.
The politician is said to have called the child welfare institution's director last year to ask that the girl attend the summer camp to help with the organizing. "This is a delusion, an unfounded accusation," Herák said at a press conference on 26 May at the National Assembly.
"This is a fabrication. I am intensively consulting my attorney about this," the politician informed the press.
Herák grew up in a child welfare institution himself before being placed with a foster family. "I understand how difficult it is to grow up without parental support and without love," he told the media.
"For that reason, I also understand that children sometimes have a need to invent things so they can become the center of attention," the politician said. Should he be convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison without the possibility of parole.
"I have complete faith in the authorities and I believe my name will be cleared and my innocence of the charges will be proven, naturally," Herák said before asking the media to respect the principle of the presumption of innocence in their reporting. The 32-year-old politician won 5 092 preferential votes during elections to the National Assembly last year.
Those votes catapulted him from the bottom of the OĽANO movement's candidate list into the national legislature. Before his election Herák had been a longtime civic activist, a college teacher, and the statutory representative of a civic association called "Children's Fantasy" (Fantázia detí).
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