Following The Shift’s revelations last Sunday of sexual harassment and gross misconduct at the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra, a 31-year-old Gozitan on Friday morning admitted to charges of sexual harassment the police brought against him.
The man, a senior official at the MPO whose name cannot be made public by court order, was given a one-year prison sentence suspended for four years and has been placed under a five-year restraining order in the female victim’s favour.
The unnamed man on Friday morning admitted to police charges of subjecting his victim to acts of physical intimacy, harassment, behaviour with sexual implications and the misuse of electronic communications. A ban was also imposed on publishing the victim’s name.
The man was arraigned behind closed doors after his legal representation – Giannella de Marco and Veronique Dalli – asked to speak to the court privately, but proceedings resumed shortly afterwards in open court.
Earlier this week, The Shift confirmed with the police and the top brass at national orchestra that investigations had been initiated after the article on Sunday by The Shift. It didn’t take long for the accused to be arraigned.
The man’s lawyers on Friday argued that the accused suffered from anxiety, a condition they claimed had forced him to return from abroad where he was studying the violin. They asked the court, presided over by Magistrate Charmaine Galea, to take the condition into account when delivering its sentence.
They also argued the man had not attempted to make any contact whatsoever with the young lady since the accusations had first come to his attention back in July when the last incident apparently took place, but, according to the victim’s lawyer, that was only because she had blocked him from her social media. The harassment began in May 2019.
The MPO officer, it is believed, sent the woman sexually-suggestive messages and repeatedly and inappropriately touched her and ignored her requests to stop such untoward behaviour. The abuse lasted from May 2019 until last July.
The victim had resigned from the national orchestra to avoid further contact with the man who she said was sexually harassing her at the orchestra and work functions.
Prosecuting Inspector Kevin Pulis exhibited the police report filed by the victim as well as an audiovisual recording of the woman’s statement.
The prosecution, parte civile and the defence agreed that a custodial sentence was not required and he was instead handed a one-year prison sentence suspended for four years as well as a five-year restraining order.
The Shift exclusively revealed the harassment case on Sunday after the former orchestra employee filed a criminal complaint detailing the incidents that forced her to resign from the MPO due to “excessive stress caused by abuse and multiple incidents of sexual harassment that took place at the office and during work functions”.
The former MPO employee stated in the report that she had made several verbal reports that were ignored, which led to her resignation. This was, however, not the only case of sexual harassment at the national orchestra, as claims of sexual harassment at the national orchestra have been doing the rounds for years.
Inspectors Kevin Pulis and Gabriel Micallef prosecuted, while Joseph Gatt and Ilenia Agius represented the victim parte civile. Lawyers Giannella De Marco and Veronique Dalli served as defence counsel.