The Malta Independent 26 May 2019, Sunday

Massage therapist repeatedly touched woman’s intimate parts, court told

Wednesday, 15 May 2019, 14:09 Last update: about 10 days ago

A massage therapist has been charged with committing a non-consensual sexual act on a Chinese woman after he allegedly repeatedly touched her private parts during a 75 minute full-body massage.

The 43-year-old man, who is not being named at the orders of the court, had been arrested after the police received a report on Monday from the woman, who is in Malta on holiday, explained prosecuting police inspector Oriana Spiteri.

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She told magistrate Gabriella Vella that the woman had ordered a relaxing massage from her hotel and had been informed in advance that the masseuse would be male. Testifying in English via video conferencing, the softly-spoken woman said “I was hesitant but I was told that I would lose money if I cancelled.”

When the massage started, she said, things “started to get weird.”

“I have been massaged many times before and always if they touch my private area by mistake they apologise, but this man, almost every time he would touch my private area.”

“I was shocked because his hand regularly went inside my underwear…I said ‘please no’ and he said sorry.”

After the massage finished, while washing his hands, the accused had asked whether she was afraid about travelling alone, she said. “I said no. He shook my hand and wished me a nice stay.”

Asked what the accused was replying to the charge, his lawyer Michael Sciriha said “definitely not guilty”.

Sciriha cross-examined the witness. Amongst other questions he asked if her trip to Malta was covered by insurance. “Yes I have student insurance,” she replied.

Had she, at any point, screamed or shouted at the masseuse, Sciriha asked. She said she hadn’t because they were alone. “It would have been dangerous,” explained the alleged victim.

The woman was briefly brought into the courtroom to identify the man who assaulted her. She said she thought it was the accused, but qualified this by saying that she was very nervous during the massage and she had tried to avoid eye contact or looking at the man’s face. “I don’t remember the man’s face very clearly,” she said.

Sciriha asked for a ban on the publication of the name of the accused and requested bail. The accused had been practising his profession for several years and was a family man, said the lawyer. The main witness has now testified and there is no problem of tampering with evidence. The prosecution did not oppose the requests.

The court, in view of the circumstances of the case, upheld the requests, extending the prohibition to the name of the alleged victim. This prohibition also applies to any eventual judgment, said the magistrate.

Bail was granted against a deposit of € 500 and a personal guarantee of €5000.

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