Volume 93, Issue 64

Tuesday, January 25, 2000


NEWS

Toronto teacher in court with bribery charge

Gentlemen, start your engines

TA negotiations resume in Toronto

Government withholds refunds from students

Government reserves funding for hockey

Theft highlights slow crime week

Briefs

Stuff

Caught on campus

Toronto teacher in court with bribery charge



By Joel Brown
Gazette Staff

A Centennial College math teacher was in court Friday charged with offering good grades to two failing students in exchange for gifts and money.

Omar Kefeli, a former instructor at the Toronto college, faces a maximum five year prison term if found guilty of the charges which accuse him of offering a secret commission, said Kefeli's defence lawyer David Gorrell.

Gorrell said students Jose Castelo and Sebastiano Caschetto provided testimony which accused the instructor of demanding a Polaroid camera and money ranging from $400 to $700 in exchange for passing grades.

Both witnesses testified Kefeli was willing to accept blank copies of a test, which Kefeli would then fill in with the correct answers in an arranged deal, Gorrell said.

A tape recording presented at the trial contained a conversation between Kefeli and Caschetto, which included Kefeli making comments about a deal between the two, Gorrell said.

Gorrell contended the deal was an offer of tutoring, not the alleged bribery. "[Kefeli] at no time requested money or gifts," he said.

In court, Gorrell argued the tape in no way proved Kefeli's guilt. Instead, he said it showed Caschetto's intention to seek an arrangement to help the student pass the class.

More evidence from the taped conversations included an exchange between the two while Caschetto gave Kefeli a ride to the subway. "You're not going to help me?" Gorrell said, quoting Caschetto from a 12 page transcript, "What was the use of this anyway?"

Mac Swerynski, who taught the class which included the two students before Kefeli took over, testified in court the class was a very disruptive group and contained no one with passing grades.

"It was so bad, it drove him out of teaching after 42 years," Gorrell said, citing again from the trial's records.

Julie Battersby, acting crown attorney of the Scarborough district, said she could only confirm that at Kefeli's court appearance he was neither acquitted nor convicted. Kefeli's next court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 23, she said.

Bill Summers, Centennial's VP-academic, said Kefeli was at the end of his contract at the time of the allegations.

Summers added that even if Kefeli was acquitted of the charges, another contract offer would have to be discussed with the rest of the school's administration at a later date.

Sid Usprich, professor of criminal law at Western, said to his knowledge, Western's Senate rules and regulations do not have any clauses which directly guards against cases of bribery.

"It is not stated that 'thou shalt not seek bribery' but it doesn't say you can hit a student over the head with a chair either," he said.

"It's something that is implicit in the function of the relationship between faculty and students."


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