Prof faces 6-month sentence, fianc‚e claims charges false

Ryan Brown

An ISU professor violated a no-contact order after being convicted of domestic assault against his fianc‚e.

Sheldon Shen, professor of zoology and genetics, was ordered by District Associate Court Judge Steven Van Marel to serve a 90-day jail term starting no later than Dec. 1, according to court documents.

Shen, of Gilbert, pleaded guilty in June to serious misdemeanor charges and violation of a no-contact order, and he cannot have contact with the victim, Carolyn Flynn, of 1531 Curtiss Ave. Since then, Shen has violated his probation four times between Aug. 9 and Aug. 17. Shen was seen entering and leaving his fianc‚e’s residence, according to court documents.

Shen pleaded guilty Oct. 3 to three of those counts and admitted to violating his probation by committing new crimes, according to court documents.

In a court affidavit dated March 25, Shen pulled a ring off of Flynn causing bodily harm to her and pushed her down the stairs.

Shen said his fianc‚e will clear his name; he offered no further comment.

“My fianc‚e, Sheldon Shen, is an innocent man,” Flynn said. “The entire incident arose from false accusations that I made in March 2001 when I was inebriated and an over-reaction from the Assistant Story County Attorney Mary Howell Sirna.”

The county attorney’s office said the court has made its decision.

“The judgment entries speak for themselves,” Sirna said.

Flynn said she claims she never filed or requested a no-contact order and tried to get the order lifted.

“I have been emotionally distressed by the county attorney’s refusal to drop the no-contact order despite my repeated request,” Flynn said. “Instead of justice being served, an honestly innocent man is being sent to jail – the whole thing is a nightmare – I want it to end now.”

Before Van Marel will lift the no-contact order, Shen has been ordered to complete a six-month Batterer’s Education Program, according to court documents. In a letter sent to Van Marel dated July 3, included in the court files, Shen asked for the no-contact order to be lifted.

“My family have urged me to sever ties to Carolyn because the relationship has brought me such misfortunes,” Shen said. “However, I love her and have a sincere, deep concern for her welfare and return to good health. When Carolyn is sober, she is a wonderful, intelligent, woman and loving person, which are the bases for my love for her.”

The university is watching the situation and is taking appropriate actions, said Susan Carlson, associate provost.

“It’s important that the charges against Prof. Shen are against his personal life, and although we are aware of the situation, it does involve his personal life,” Carlson said.

Shen has been placed under court-appointed supervision, Carlson said.

The responsibilities and duties of Shen will not be altered, as the court has given him a work release while he serves his sentence, said Duane Enger, professor and chair of zoology and genetics.

“Dr. Shen is a full professor in the department,” Enger said. “What has happened has happened.”

The situation will be under continued administrative review, Enger said.

Enger has worked with Shen since 1984 and said he has always been an advocate for education.

“We are very relieved that he is able to continue.” Enger said. “His contributions are very important to the students. He’s a good colleague, very dedicated teacher and very contentious mentor and adviser. He has shown nothing in his professional life to demonstrate his actions.”