64-year-old cleared of defiling 13-year-old family member

The alleged victim testified in the proceedings however the court noted significant discrepancies in her allegations

A court has cleared a 64-year-old man of corrupting a 13-year-old girl, citing doubts about the minor's credibility with regards to the allegation.

In September 2011, the Police had received a report from the Looked After Children section of Appogg, alleging that the girl had been sexually abused by two family members – one of whom was the husband of her mother's cousin.

Some years prior to the report, the child's mother had died, necessitating the adoption of her children; a boy and a the girl in question.

For around one year, the minor had lived with the accused and his family after she had run away from her adoptive family, claiming that she had been treated violently.

The girl then moved in with her aunt, but soon after wanted to live elsewhere.

It was at this point that the minor made the allegations of sexual abuse with regards to the accused, who is related to the child's mother, and her aunt's husband.

She claimed that when she was just six or seven years old, the accused had shown her “rude programmes” on the TV and would ask her to undress before touching her intimate parts.

More recently, the then 14-year-old girl had also reported the alleged abuse to social workers, claiming that the accused had taken photographs of her in the bathroom and that she had caught him peeping through the keyhole while she was showering.

The Appogg agency had been informed of this fact by the accused's wife, after the minor had said that she did not want to live with her aunt any more. The girl had told her that she had not spoken out earlier, out of fear of being sent back to her adoptive family.

Testifying via videoconferencing, the girl said that there had been many more similar incidents.

The accused had told the court that the minor was disobedient and headstrong. Appogg's social worker had also informed them that the minor had a tendency to mix up her words.

He denied the allegations, also pointing out that at age seven, the girl was being cared for by nuns and that he had no contact with her.

Magistrate Audrey Demicoli noted the girl's difficult childhood. However she also noted the child's lack of emotion and matter of fact manner in which the girl had testified.

There had been instances where the court doubted her credibility due to discrepancies in her testimony. At times, she had claimed that there had been physical contact with the accused, other times she denied it.

The court found it hard to believe that the girl would go live with the accused's family after having been subjected to sexual abuse at his hands in the years before.

Whilst the court held that it was evident that the minor had experienced episodes of sexual abuse and that these had left their mark on her, it had doubts as to whether the incidents imputed to the accused had acutally taken place or whether she was using them as a means to an end.

The court declared the accused to be not guilty of all charges, adding that with respect to the acts that allegedly took place before 2011, these had not been included in the charges and so the court could not find guilt in that respect. 

Lawyers Stephanie Abela and Andy Ellul were defence counsel. Police inspector Louise Calleja prosecuted.

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