KAMLOOPS, B.C. - A retired special-education teacher accused of possessing child pornography has denied stashing the computer discs in his ceiling and rebutted a neighbour's testimony that he admitted guilt.
Jerry Waselenkoff, 66, took the stand in his own defence Tuesday on a single count at his trial in B.C. Supreme Court in Kamloops.
He also told court that Russian curling team members used to stay at his condo for weeks at a time while he was away on holiday.
An RCMP investigator testified earlier that the discs contain images of unclothed girls, ranging in estimated age from eight to 15 years old, which focus on their genitals.
The man's neighbour, Franz van der Woning, earlier testified he and his son were fishing electrical wire through the ceiling of the condo directly below, to install a fireplace, when they came upon wallets full of computer discs. They inserted one in a computer to view its contents, became concerned and called Mounties.
Van der Woning testified he later heard rustling in the ceiling where the discs had been found.
Shortly after, he was approached by Waselenkoff. Van der Woning said the man was worried about his reputation and threatened to kill himself by taking sleeping pills.
But in his testimony for the defence, Waselenkoff said he only rooted around in the space between the two condos after his neighbour reported finding the discs.
"I was puzzled why he told me," Waselenkoff told his lawyer, Glen Orris.
He said Van der Woning seemed to be pressing him for an admission of guilt, saying "'We all have skeletons in our closet.'"
"I was completely caught off guard. ... I just wouldn't do that. I respect kids too much. I spent my whole life helping them."
Waselenkoff explained that he made a reference to sleeping pills when he was stressed over caring for two close relatives, including his mother who was sick with cancer.
He said he feared any association with the discs would tarnish his reputation and told Van der Woning, "'Just keep your mouth shut.'"
Waselenkoff added that his gift for coaching included a decade-long relationship with the Russian curling federation. He said he taught visiting curlers who went on to win world championships.
Many of the athletes would stay at his home for weeks at a time while he was on vacation in Asia, he testified.
(Kamloops This Week)
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