A former female police officer has told a court that she was raped and sexually assaulted by her fellow officer when they were on duty together at Msida police station.
The woman, who cannot be named to protect her identity, said that after a period of harassment, there were three major incidents - in October 2017, February 2018 and the following March.
However one of her superiors laughed when she told him she was being harassed, the woman told the court, and she didn't want to report the attacks because she did not think she would be believed.
Once she did, she said colleagues would treat her differently and she received "no" support from the police.
The woman was speaking via video conference at the trial of the 33-year-old defendant, which began on Tuesday. His name is also protected via court order.
'I told him to leave me alone'
She said she joined the force in 2015 and first met the accused when he was stationed at Msida in 2017. She told Judge Consuelo Scerri Herrera that the harassment and assaults began about a year later.
The accused would touch her breasts and ignore her requests to stop. "I told him to leave me alone, but he persisted," she said.
When she told her superior officer that she was being harassed, his response was one of laughter, before he asked her, “do you want me to tell him?”
She said: “I was afraid. The two were friends. So how could I trust him to report?”
She also didn’t want to report to her other superior inspector in Msida because she felt that she did not like her.
The first incident occurred on October 30, 2017 when the accused began to touch her breasts and bottom, over her uniform as she sat at her front office desk where she carried out her duties as an orderly. The touching continued even when she was taking a call.
She told him to stop. “Let me be. Go away. Stop.” He did and she said nothing about it.
'I tried to get up'
However, four months later, on February 16, 2018, she said the former officer raped her.
That evening around 6pm, the accused had left briefly to meet his girlfriend.
Half an hour later he came back, and said to her: “Now is the chance to suck them.” He grabbed her hand and put it on his private parts, she said.
“Go away. Go to your girlfriend. Leave me be,” she told him, as he stood beside her at the high desk.
But he dragged her by the hand and led her to the sergeants’ room where a light pink three-seater sofa was placed against one wall.
“Obviously he’s stronger than me. He pushed me onto the sofa. I tried to get up," she said.
She described how she "tried to get out" of the room but that he pulled off her clothes and raped her after several attempts.
The second rape allegedly followed along the same sequence when the accused and victim were on night watch on March 7.
She described the accused as “possessive” and said he began interfering in her personal life.
He used to type sexually suggestive messages on his mobile and show her the text without sending the message. But he was careful not to speak in front of other colleagues, she said.
On other occasions, he would try to kiss her and would try to touch her.
Asked why she waited from October 2017 to March 2018 to report the alleged assaults, the victim said she was threatened.
"I was scared. "He would tell me that he would take me before the police board,” she said, repeating that reason under cross-examination by the defence.
She only decided to speak out when she got to know that the accused was trying to do the same things to other people.
The other alleged victim was stationed at Sliema.
“I approached her and opened up to her about my ordeal," she said. "The accused had touched her leg and her bottom. I didn’t want her to go through what I had gone through.”
Asked about how the alleged incidents changed her, the woman said that she was traumatized and that work colleagues did not seem comfortable in her presence.
She eventually left the force last year.
Asked whether the police corps had offered her any help, she replied: “No. Not even the commissioners. The commissioner did not even call to check on me. Victim Support Malta helped a lot, though. They offered counseling with a psychologist.”
After the incidents she went through PTSD and experienced fear that the accused might follow her. She had eating problems and experienced panic at night, reliving the dread of going to work.
The mere sight of a police uniform instilled fear in her, she told the court.
Under cross-examination she said that her superior, Inspector Lara Butters disliked her and that while AC Alexandra Mamo had first tried to help her, she then appeared to change her attitude, growing distant.
“She’d say good morning to the others but not to me," she said.
Another sergeant, her superior, was on very good terms with the accused.
“He would assign him duties outside the station whereas I was always inside.”
The accused once even got a woman to the station and took her out in the service car, but the sergeant did not do anything about that, she alleged.
Asked why she didn't try to go outside when he tried to rape her, the accused said she didn't want to leave the station unattended.
When the defence questioned why she did not try to change her shift following the rape, she said that she "wasn't ok after all I went through".
She had filled out a transfer request form but did not submit it.
The defence asked why she did not seek a medical certificate or take photographs of the marks she said were left by being dragged forcefully by the accused.
She said she didn't think about it.
Defence lawyer Edward Gatt put it to her that it was "not at all true" that the sex was non-consensual.
“I insist it was not consensual," she said.
Asked why the accused was able to remove her police belt and an under belt, the victim said she was not wearing them at the time because she had had a caesarian section around 18 months previously and they caused her pain.
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.
Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.Support Us