Three men who shot secret porn video of underage girl must pay her €32,600

Three men who shot and circulated a pornographic video involving an underage girl without her consent have been ordered to pay her €32,656 in joint damages

Three men who shot and circulated a pornographic video involving an underage girl without her consent have been ordered to pay her €32,656 in joint damages for the permanent psychological trauma she suffered.

The girl had filed the case for damages against John Martin, Derek Lee D’Amato, Lee Martin, Emanuel Theuma and Jurgen Debattista after the men had been convicted of secretly filming the sexual encounter with her, an underage person at the time, as well as circulating and selling it. The incident dates back 13 years.

The men had admitted their guilt in separate criminal proceedings and had been sentenced to probation, but told the First Hall of the Civil Court, presided by Mr. Justice Grazio Mercieca, that they had only pleaded guilty as part of a plea-bargaining agreement.

The court said it could not accept such arguments and that none of the men could validly assert that there was no connection between his actions and the damage suffered by the plaintiff.

The men had also argued that the plaintiff could not demand compensation for psychological or moral damages, as these concepts had been introduced into Maltese law after the incident took place.

The court gave a scholarly overview of the historical basis of moral damages in Maltese law and jurisprudence, observing that the courts had historically tended to avoid moral damages, instead of awarding damages dependent on the affected party’s capability to continue to work.

Examining relevant case law, Mr Justice Mercieca said it was clear that psychological damage was not the same as moral damages but was “as real as purely physical damages” which could have detrimental effects on earning potential.

Using the criteria adopted for compensating physical disability, the court noted that the plaintiff had been examined by a court-appointed medical expert five years after the incident, and again nine years after that medical report.

The initial examination returned a 30% psychological disability while the second, only 6%. This drastic change was attributed by the court to the fact that the plaintiff had managed to overcome the trauma and build a stable relationship with another person.

The case for damages against Jurgen Debattista and Lee Martin was deemed time barred by the court, but that against the remaining three was not.

Taking into account the 6% disability and applying it to the woman’s projected earnings, the court condemned the men to pay her €32,656.51 in damages.

Lawyers Veronique Dalli and Andrew Saliba appeared for the plaintiff.

Lawyer Andrew Sciberras assisted Jurgen Debattista. Lawyers Norma Vella, Claudio Zammit and Victoria Cuschieri assisted the other defendants.

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