The Malta Independent 19 August 2019, Monday

Actor John Suda given suspended sentence for violent indecent assault on actress

Friday, 5 October 2018, 18:46 Last update: about 12 months ago

Veteran actor John Suda has been handed a suspended sentence for committing a violent indecent assault on a 22-year-old actress in 2015.

Magistrate Audrey Demicoli heard how Suda had invited the victim, who cannot be named by the order of the court, for one-on-one coaching after she had auditioned for a part in a local soap opera.

But when the young actress turned up for her lesson, Suda had locked the door and ordered her to take off her clothes and start reciting her lines. When she asked why she had to do this, he had raised his voice and told her that it was necessary to improve her confidence. He had then proceeded to blindfold the girl and tell her to walk around the room naked while reciting her lines.

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“He then told her that he is a professional person who knows what he’s doing and proceeded to grab her head and place his genital organ in her mouth and then kiss her face and neck, telling her to say her lines with her mouth touching his mouth.”

He had told her that the character she was interpreting was sexually adventurous and that there would be a scene in a future episode where she would have sex with an older man. She pointed out that this was not in the script she had been given, but Suda had told her that she was “stiff.”

Naked, he had taken off the girl’s blindfold and told her to lie on top of him “and pretend to raise him from the dead”, but the girl had chosen to lie beside him instead, so Suda had pulled her on top of him and told her to relax.

He started to touch her and then ordered the girl to recite her lines to his penis

Suda had then put his fingers in her mouth because he claimed that she wasn’t saying the lines well, before bringing her mouth near his genitals and ordering her to recite the lines again. When she refused, he had grabbed her head and pushed it near his genitals. The session had then ended.

The traumatised actress had taken a taxi to work where she suffered a psychological collapse such that she could not leave her house for three days and her employer had to request the assistance of a psychotherapist.

In the meantime, Suda sent her a text message saying that she had “done well” in her audition.

The accused, who held a warrant as a drama teacher for 40 years, had told police that he had used this method in workshops and that he had done so with the victim to “see how cool she can stay in these situations.” He insisted that nobody speaks about these types of workshops because “it’s a professional thing and it is unethical to talk about it.” He had told her not to tell anyone about the methods he employed to make her feel that she was being given special treatment and to avoid the creation of “bad blood in the cast if one isn’t chosen.”

The girl had testified that when she had objected to undressing, Suda had “told me that if I wanted to be a good actress I would have to be prepared to do these things.”

“He was an actor that I used to look up to. He has a big name in Malta and once I was expressing that I don’t feel [comfortable] he kept on insisting and as I said I had no other option.”

Suda had presented the court with literature about the method which he had used, saying that one of the greatest inhibitions which exist in society is being naked and that “what I was interested in was her facial expression and her eyes.” He had never held one to one sessions with male actors, he told the court.

The court, after hearing the victim testify on several occasions, said that it was morally convinced that she had not wished to be tutored in this manner. “It is the opinion of this court that the accused utilised this methodology with bad intentions, in the sense that his actions indicate that his intention was not to use the methodology as a means of teaching but as a means of subjugating [the girl] to his will.”

Had he really wanted to teach, said the court, he would have informed her of the method beforehand and given her the opportunity to conduct her own research.

The court found Suda guilty of violent indecent assault, but not of holding the girl against her will, as the evidence had shown that the accused had locked the door to avoid people walking in and not to stop the girl from escaping.

Taking into account his clean criminal record, the court sentenced the veteran actor to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for 2 years. A protection order was issued in favour of the young actress.

Lawyer Joe Giglio appeared for Suda, whilst lawyer Giannella De Marco represented the victim.

Inspectors Paula Ciantar and Joseph Busuttil prosecuted.

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