Mother used daughter in false allegations against estranged husband

The woman, who lives in Gozo and is fighting a contentious separation from her Maltese husband, had filed a report in March 2014, accusing her husband of sexually abusing her daughter, aged six at the time.

A Russian woman who convinced her six year old daughter to falsely accuse her estranged husband of child sex abuse was handed a suspended 13-month prison sentence last Wednesday.

The woman, who lives in Gozo and is fighting a contentious separation from her Maltese husband, had filed a report in March 2014, accusing her husband of sexually abusing her daughter, aged six at the time.

A month later she had released a signed declaration, explaining that her six year old daughter had told her that her former husband had “shook her bottoms [sic]”, while touching her private parts from behind. 

The accused had told the police that she was very concerned and had asked her daughter about this a thousand times over, even rousing her daughter from sleep, ostensibly to catch her with her guard down and find out whether she was telling the truth.

But the police’s suspicions were aroused when, during a two-hour interview at the Police Headquarters, the investigating officer noted that the woman’s focus and concern appeared to be geared more towards her complaints against her husband than the alleged abuse of her daughter. After allowing her to conclude a lengthy diatribe against her husband, the woman was specifically asked to state something positive about the man. The woman replied that “there is nothing positive to report.”

Inspector Melvin Camilleri testified earlier this month, telling Magistrate Joseph Mifsud that he, together with a female officer, had also interviewed the daughter, in the presence of her mother.

The first question posed to the daughter was to tell the officers about her family. The girl “immediately as if rehearsed, said that her father treated her badly and even his family treated her in the same manner”.

The child also said there was nothing favourable to say and that there was always something wrong with her father’s family. Unprompted and unexpectedly, the child said that her father had touched her “pipi and popo,” referring to her private areas, while she had been lying down at her grandmother’s house. 

“When we requested her to explain, physically explain, although she said “shook her bottom, in Maltese... she didn’t make a shaking movement but a cuddling gesture like grabbing her. So that was one thing that set off my alarm and made me suspect that the child might have been instructed as to what she had to say.”

“At one point she just turned over to her mother and said something in Russian, which I immediately asked the mother to translate. The mother said the child mentioned something related to pornography.” 

But after letting the child carry on talking about how her father used to smack and mistreat her, the inspector asked her about this pornography. “She replied that whilst touching her “patata” the father had red pornographic eyes.” He pressed the child on what she meant by the phrase “red pornographic eyes.” 

He asked whether anyone had told her what “red pornographic eyes” meant. “She told me, yes, mummy.” The child was asked whether anyone had instructed her to say this. “She repeated that her mummy had told her to say so.” 

The girl’s younger brother was also interviewed by the police. When asked about his father, the child would simply repeat a word in Russian, which the mother explained meant “bandit, a bad man.”

The boy could not explain why he referred to his father in this way, but said that his father was “always naughty and he never fed him well because he always fed him bread and never cooked ravioli.”

The father was also questioned by police. He had explained that, after a previous arraignment on allegations of mistreatment, a court had appointed a counsellor, who had advised them to have a second child to save their broken relationship, just two months after the wife had suffered a miscarriage.

Inspector Camilleri, who holds a Masters degree in Investigative Psychology, had red-flagged three points to his superiors: the manner in which the couple had been married and the question of revenge; the untreated effects of potential postpartum depression and parental alienation. He had recommended that no criminal action be taken against the father. 

Of the children’s behaviour, he noted “there is a combination of factors, particularly indoctrination against the other party as in this case child custody and separation disputes. Whereas normally for that age, three and six, their father is their hero, both these children found complete fault with their father, with their situation as if he were demonized. So considering all this I recommended that no criminal action should be taken.”

Magistrate Mifsud found the mother guilty of making calumnious accusations and handed her a 13-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

The names of all family members involved is being withheld by order of the court.