An ex-police officer has gone on trial accused of raping a former colleague and sexually assaulting another in attacks that allegedly took place in Msida police station and a police car.
The 33-year-old, who cannot be named because of a court order, is accused of repeatedly sexually harassing, groping and twice raping one female officer in the station where they both worked.
He is further accused of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old new recruit in a police car after a patrol of Manoel Island.
The man resigned from the force in March 2018, a month before being charged with violent rape, unlawful arrest or detention, sexual harassment at the workplace and harassment.
Inspector Mark Mercieca, who handled the initial interrogation and took the testimony of the first witness, described how one of the victims approached him to tell him that she had been sexually harrassed and raped at the station where they both worked. The second woman then came forward with a similar account.
Fear she would not be believed
One of the women said the abuse had begun in October 2017 and she had told her shift sergeant the next day but asked him not to speak to the defendant about it.
The harassment and groping then escalated to rape in a kitchenette room in the station. On another occasion, the female officer and another sergeant were playing a video game. When the sergeant went home, the accused raped her again.
She said she had not spoken about the rape because of fear that she would not be believed.
On another occasion, one of the victims was in a police car with the defendant who had been driving. His hand would “slip” off the gear lever and onto her thigh, she said. She said several such incidents had happened.
The police officer was later arrested at home in Cospicua. He claimed that the sexual encounters were consensual but later admitted that he had sex with the victim on two occasions and that the sex had been against her will.
Inspector Sylvana Gafa also testified about the rape victim's account.
She described how at first the victim saw nothing wrong in the accused’s attitude. Then one day he caught her hand and told her, "let me show you what I know". He took her behind a door and tried to kiss her.
He continued to touch her and harass her, and one day asked her for oral sex. He took her into another room and took down his trousers. When she tried to leave, he pulled down her trousers and raped her. Afterwards, she said, “don’t dare do that again.” However, he continued to harass her, touching his private parts when she went by.
Another time, when he wanted her to go with him to Manoel Island on a night watch, she told him to f**k off. He sexually assaulted her.
She described to the inspector a different occassion, when he pressed her to the wall and tried to kiss her. She resisted but he was a big man and he raped her again.
She spoke out when she learned that he was doing the same thing with other colleagues. She didn’t wish others to go through what she had been through. That was when she spoke to one of the others, the second alleged victim.
This second woman was asked by the accused and another male officer to deliver court notices late in the evening. When the other male officer got out, the accused told her to sit next to him.
When she did, he told her that his hand slipped from the gear lever. Each time she got out of the car, he made comments about her body and when she came back inside, he placed his hand on the passenger seat underneath her.
Another time he followed her to a vending machine and kissed her face. She pushed him away, but he laughed and later sent her a text message.
“It’s not for sex but to know you better,” he later messaged.
Victim resigned from force
Gafa, who was testifying as an inspector at the victim support unit, said the rape victim had been very badly affected by her ordeal. She resigned from the police last year.
The victim said that she was feeling bad, and that fellow colleagues looked at her in a negative light.
Attorney General lawyers are Angele Vella and Darlene Grima. Defence lawyers are Edward Gatt and Franco Debono. The alleged victims' lawyers Lara Dimitrijevic and Stephanie Caruana are appearing parte civile.
The trial is continuing.