A male official at the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra admitted sexually harassing a female member of the orchestra, who resigned over the “excessive stress” caused by the abuse.
After pleading guilty, the 31-year-old Gozitan resident was handed a suspended sentence. His name cannot be revealed due to a media ban.
He admitted charges of harassment, subjecting his victim to acts of physical intimacy and behaviour with sexual implications, as well as misuse of electronic communications equipment.
His victim submitted a resignation letter wherein she explained that all previous verbal reports over the matter had been ignored.
'During work functions'
She said that the “abuse and multiple incidents of sexual harassment that took place at the office and during work functions,” had taken their toll.
Her health, both physical and mental, had suffered, leaving her with no option but to “move on to a different chapter to prioritize her well-being.”
Friday's s arraignment began behind closed doors after the accused’s lawyers requested to address the court.
After a few minutes, the hearing resumed in open court.
The accused’s lawyers, Giannella de Marco and Veronique Dalli, claimed that the man suffered anxiety to such extent that when abroad studying to become a violinist he had to come back.
He was under medical care, his lawyers explained, asking for that to be taken into account when the court deliberated on the sentence.
Since he learned about the allegations in July he never attempted any other approach nor any contact with the victim, his lawyers said.
“That’s because she blocked him on social media,” promptly rebutted Roberto Spiteri, the victim’s lawyer representing her in court.
Objection to media ban
The defence requested a ban on the accused’s name, which was questioned by the parte civile lawyer.
“I don’t see the legal basis. They cannot get to the name of the victim through the accused’s name. There are other female orchestra members,” he argued, as the prosecution also took the same stand.
After hearing further arguments, the court upheld the request and ordered a ban on the accused’s name in view of the nature of the offences involved.
The court then minuted that the parties agreed on a conditional discharge as adequate sentence.
After taking note of the police report, the defendant's criminal record and his early guilty plea, the court condemned him to one-year imprisonment suspended for four years and placed him under a restraining order for five years.
“If you commit another offence in these four years you have a year in jail. And you cannot communicate with this lady in any way,” warned Magistrate Charmaine Galea.
Inspectors Kevin Pulis and Gabriel Micallef prosecuted. Lawyers Joseph Gatt and Ilenia Agius were also parte civile.