Woman who posed as girl set free but rearrested outside court

Barbora Škrlová, photo: CTK

On Friday a court in Brno passed down a not-guilty verdict against Barbora Škrlová, a 33-year-old woman who posed as a 13-year-old girl, went on the run, and reappeared months later posing as a 13-year-old boy...in Norway. Ms Škrlová is at the centre of a horrific child abuse scandal allegedly involving a sinister cult founded by her father. She was immediately rearrested outside the court to stand trial for these more serious charges.

Barbora Škrlová, photo: CTK
Barbora Škrlová arrived at Brno’s Municipal Court on Friday to be met by a scrum of TV cameras and photographers. She looked bewildered and frightened, as prison guards brought her into court in handcuffs. She was accompanied by another woman – Kateřina Mauerová – who looked pale and gaunt. The two women are accused of deliberately deceiving staff at a Brno children’s home by presenting Barbora as a 13-year-old adopted girl called Anička. They had faced up to two years in prison, but after being freed both were immediately rearrested to stand trial on the more serious charges of child abuse.

The deception occurred shortly after Kateřina Mauerová’s sister Klára was arrested at her home in the town of Kuřim, where Barbora lived along with Klára Mauerová and her two young sons. Police were called after it emerged that Klára was keeping one of her boys – an eight-year-old called Ondřej – naked and bound and locked in a broom cupboard. According to witnesses he was beaten and tortured and made to eat his own vomit.

Klára Mauerová was arrested and her two sons taken into custody. Barbora Škrlová – posing as 13-year-old Anička, Klára’s adopted daughter – was put into a children’s home by Kateřina Mauerová. Days later, she escaped and disappeared.

For months the Czech media were haunted by pictures of Barbora Škrlová in her various guises. First there was Anička, with her thick glasses and brown hair tied up in girlish ponytails. Then there was the shaved head and dark, sunken eyes of Adam, the 13-year-old Czech schoolboy who turned up in the Norwegian capital Oslo. And finally a pale, nervous-looking woman wearing a woolly hat and clutching a teddy bear, and being led away by police at Prague Airport.

This first trial only concerned the deception at the children’s home. But Barbora Škrlová, Kateřina Mauerová, Klára Mauerová and three others are all due to stand trial in June on charges of abusing the two young boys. All six adults are thought to be linked to a secretive cult, allegedly founded by Barbora's father, whose whereabouts remain unknown. The question on everyone's minds is whether Barbora Skrlova was, as she maintains, a victim of that abuse, or a willing participant in it.