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Juvenile prostitution charge against Schoenherr doesn’t stick

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010 | 1:18 pm

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Someone has slashed the tires and written 'rapist' on a car parked in front of Alfons Schoenherr's house, the place where cops allege sexual assaults have taken place as recently as last month. (Photo Joe Fries)

By Joe Fries

The ugliness at Alfons Schoenherr’s house begins before you even set foot on his property.

Parked at the base of his driveway is a green sedan with two of its tires slashed, one of its side mirrors smashed, and the word ‘rapist’ drawn in the dirt caked along the bottom of the driver’s door.

At the top of the driveway is a jumble of TVs, a microwave, a lamp, a mattress and what looks like a headboard. And the stuff just piles up as you get closer to the front door; last July, the city opened an unsightly premises file in relation to the property.

Inside the house, police thought something even uglier had taken place – a sexual assault the day before – when they executed a search warrant at 1457 Alta Vista Drive on Jan. 25 and arrested the 60-year-old Schoenherr, then charged him with six offences: procuring an underage prostitute, administering a noxious substance, sexual assault, robbery, forcible confinement and criminal harassment. Kelowna RCMP said two females – one adult, one youth – were suspected victims.

But Kelowna.com has learned only half of the charges cops threw at Schoenherr stuck, while the rest were stayed last Friday by the Crown. He’s now in custody facing single counts of sexual assault, forcible confinement and robbery.

His lawyer, Oliver Butterfield, was unable to say why the Crown did not proceed on the rest. He said charge approval depends on two things: whether there is a substantial likelihood of conviction and if pursuing the charges are in the public interest.

“The Crown would be in a better position to answer this,” Butterfield said, “but I have to think that any charges of this nature are in the public interest if there is a substantial likelihood of conviction, so you can draw your own inferences from that.”

Neil MacKenzie, spokesman for B.C.’s Criminal Justice Branch, said that is an accurate – though simplistic – explanation, but would not discuss which applies here.

“In this type of situation we don’t – particularly with the matter before the court – get into a specific discussion of our analysis of any of the available evidence,” he told Kelowna.com.

Butterfield said a publication ban prevents him from discussing the nature of the allegation against his client; however, “The charges as set forth in the information speak for themselves.”

The lawyer did confirm, though, that his client was on bail at the time of his arrest while awaiting a preliminary hearing in April on charges of forcible confinement and sexual assault, which relate to an incident in early 2009. Butterfield said he’s awaiting instructions from his client on whether he wishes to seek bail again or not.

An Alta Vista Road neighbour who spoke to Kelowna.com on condition of anonymity said it is not uncommon to see “rough-looking” women stumbling to and from the house at all hours of the day. The neighbour also said a homeless man camped under a porch in Schoenherr’s backyard last summer.

Another neighbour said the sight of police cruisers in front of Schoenherr’s home and blocking off each end of the street last week was not uncommon. The neighbour said cops appear at the house about every six months.

But Schoenherr tried to turn the tables on the Mounties back in November 2005 when he sued two cops who responded to an accidental 911 call he made from his house the year before.

He testified in B.C. Supreme Court that the two female officers beat him with a baton when he refused to let them inside after explaining that he made the call in error. While he said he was polite with the cops, they testified that he opened the back door and yelled, “You crazy bitch,” before being taken to the ground and handcuffed without the use of a baton.

A jury ruled against Schoenherr after deliberating for just 30 minutes. He was ordered to pay the costs of the jury and the defendants.

Schoenherr’s latest court battle resumes Feb. 11.

joe@kelowna.com
250-575-4303

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