MPO CEO accused of orchestrated attempt to silence sexual harassment

The charges come after The Shift’s reporting on how a female employee filed a police report and resigned from her position over ‘excessive stress caused by abuse and multiple incidents of sexual harassment’ at the national orchestra.

 

Malta Philharmonic Orchestra chief executive officer Sigmund Mifsud has been accused in court of calling a meeting with the national orchestra’s top management to determine the ways and means of having a female employee drop her sexual harassment accusations against another official.

It all started when The Shift first reported in October how a female employee of the orchestra had filed a police report and resigned from her position over “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 her police report that she had made several verbal reports to the orchestra’s management that were ignored.

Charges were eventually pressed against a 31-year-old Gozitan, who 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 favour of the victim.

At the time of the revelations, members of the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra pressured the board, chaired by Alfred Camilleri and Culture Minister Owen Bonnici, to dismiss Mifsud for “covering up” sexual harassment accusations that have hit the national institution.

The members, including musicians, administrators, and members of management, demanded action following The Shift’s revelations of sexual harassment at the MPO.

Police Inspector Kevin Pulis, testifying before Magistrate Gabriella Vella on Thursday, explained how the police suspected Mifsud was indeed orchestrating a cover-up and questioned several individuals along such lines.

One of the people questioned confirmed that Mifsud asked her to arrange a meeting with the orchestra’s top management in November, where Mifsud urged those in attendance to “convince the victim to consider things carefully, and to think twice if she was going to seek revenge.”

Inspector Pulis also testified that Mifsud’s right-hand man, the MPO’s financial controller, also confirmed Mifsud instructed him at the meeting to try to convince the woman to redraft her resignation letter.

He also said Mifsud urged him to convince the woman not to go to the authorities with the complaint as such a course of action would cause damage to the orchestra, but he said he refused to do so and insisted the necessary steps be taken and that the allegations should be investigated.

Mifsud was then called to the Valletta police station for questioning, where, Inspector Pulis said, they “obtained a clear picture of why that meeting had taken place”.

A two-hour police statement made by Mifsud on the evening of 4 November 2022 was also exhibited in court.

Also taking the stand, a police sergeant stationed in Valletta testified that the woman filed the sexual harassment report against the now-suspended official on 9 October.

In the complaint, she gave a full account of the Gozitan’s conduct and of how she had spoken to Mifsud, who had brushed off her complaints by telling her she was exaggerating and being excessively sensitive.

The court heard how when the victim confronted Mifsud about the harassment again a few months later, Mifsud had told her he would intervene with the accused official but later came back and told her she was exaggerating and that she should “see both sides of the story”.

The case continues on 24 January.

                           
                           
                               
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KLAUS
KLAUS
23 days ago

Please remember the poor non-actions of the Minister Owen Bonneci.
He is also responsible for the management of the Manoel Theater
He made his name as Minister of Justice.

The poor women of Malta!

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