The management team at MCAST knew of "improper sexual behaviour" by a clique of lecturers and did not take action, an inquiry report from 2019 has revealed. 

Quoting from a separate report that had been concluded in 2017, the 2019 report shows how "a clique of academic staff" had, among other things, "behaved unprofessionally and unethically during a live-in in a hotel, setting a bad example, including inappropriate sexual behaviour and drinking of alcohol close to and in the presence of students most vulnerable in society". 

The report does not name the lecturers who formed part of this "clique". 

The probe also found that when the series of abuse was reported to the then-principal Steve Cachia, "he took no action". 

The 2019 report only came to light after it was presented in court in a case against MaltaToday. The inquiries into a series of shortcomings at MCAST were ordered after the former head of HR Josephine Abdilla reported concerns of abusive behaviour and sexual misconduct involving college staff.

Abdilla had filed a defamation suit against Matthew Vella, as executive editor of MaltaToday and the author of two stories published both online and in print earlier in August. 

'Terror, bullying, intimidation...'

The so-called clique of MCAST staff also fomented terror, bullying and authoritative behaviour as well as intimidation against other lecturers and staff at the college, the report says. 

They were also found to have "vanished" from work to carry out personal errands, at times even to travel. They would also not turn up for work without permission.

The clique would also discourage colleagues from practicing religion and were even caught removing crucifixes from classrooms without permission. 

The same group of lecturers also failed to follow set syllabi and were abusive towards parents of students with intellectual and social problems. They also failed to seek parents' permission before making decisions that involved the same vulnerable students. 

They were found to have been insubordinate towards their superiors and handed out promotions that were unjustified.

Nobody took any action

The 2017 report had concluded: "The board is extremely concerned that nobody along the chain of command seemed to take these allegations seriously enough to take action."

Yet, despite the conclusions, the subsequent probe found that although a series of shortcomings were flagged in the 2017 report, "the MCAST management still did not take proportional action based on the gravity of the situation and removed, ignored and did not implement the Board's recommendations". 

Times of Malta has contacted MCAST for a comment on the matter. 

Minister was alerted to sexual abuse claims

Meanwhile, the report also shows that the claim that a clique had been involved in sexual misconduct, which the inquiry found to be "true and correct", had also been highlighted to the education minister. 

According to the report, the allegation was presented to then-education minister Evarist Bartolo in a July 2018 email. It remains unclear what was said in the email as this was not included in the published document. It was also not clear whether Bartolo ever became involved in investigating the claim. 




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