A male massage therapist accused of having indecently touched a female client during a full-body massage has been granted bail.
The 43-year-old man and long-practicing masseur, whose name was banned under court order, was targeted by criminal prosecution following a report filed by a young Chinese student whose 75-minute full-body massage turned out to be traumatic.
Testifying in English via video conference on Wednesday, the young woman, currently on holiday in Malta, explained how she had booked the treatment from her hotel.
She told the court that she had decided to go ahead with the message, despite reservations about the therapist being a man, after she was told that cancellation would imply forfeiture of the pre-paid sum.
Things “started to get weird” when the massage began, she said.
“I have been massaged many times before and always if they touch my private area by mistake they apologise, but this man, almost every time he would touch my private area.”
“I was shocked because his hand regularly went inside my underwear… I said ‘please no’ and he said sorry.”
Once the massage was over, the man had questioned whether the client feared travelling alone.
“I said no. He shook my hand and wished me a nice stay.”
Under cross-examination by defence counsel Michael Sciriha, the woman, whose trip to Malta was covered by a student insurance, explained that she had not called out for help or shouted at the masseuse since there was no-one else around.
“It would have been dangerous,” the soft-spoken woman explained, adding that the two had been alone at the time.
When accompanied briefly into the courtroom to identify her alleged aggressor, the woman said she thought it was the man seated at the dock but could not say this with certainty since she had been very nervous during the massage and had tried to avoid eye contact.
“I don’t remember the man’s face very clearly,” she said.
The man’s lawyer entered a “definitely not guilty” plea to charges of non-consensual sexual acts and requested bail, pointing out that the alleged victim had testified, thus minimising the risk of tampering with evidence.
The request was upheld against a deposit of €500 and a personal guarantee of €5,000.
The court also upheld the request for a ban on the names of both accused and the alleged victim, pointing out that this ban extended to any future judgment on the case.
Inspector Oriana Spiteri prosecuted. Lawyer Rebekah Tanti-Dougall also appeared for the defence.