The Malta Independent 18 July 2024, Thursday
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Former MCAST principal says all allegations of sexual abuse were investigated

Tuesday, 31 May 2022, 12:03 Last update: about 3 years ago

Former MCAST principal Stephen Cachia has said that all allegations of sexual abuse at the college were investigated.

Cachia made the statement in a right of reply sent to The Malta Independent in reaction to a story titled ‘MCAST knew about staff sexual misconduct ‘in front of’ disabled students and 'did nothing about it.'

The full right of reply is being reproduced below:

“I refer to the article published in the Malta Independent today in relation to a report about the Pathway programme at MCAST issued in 2017. This is quoted in a wider report issued by a Board of Inquiry chaired by Mr Paul Bonello investigating allegations made by the former Human Resources Director at MCAST.

I would like to state for the record that during my tenure at MCAST all allegations of sexual abuse were investigated and appropriate action taken at all times. In this particular instance mentioned in the 2017 report in relation to a live-in experience organised for Pathway students no allegation of sexual abuse was made.  Inappropriate behaviour by some lecturers was reported but this was not in the presence of students and no students were involved. Two lecturers were issued with written warnings. However,  the manner in which the report was investigated was of serious concern to me since I felt that a serious injustice was being made towards the lecturers concerned. These concerns were expressed immediately in writing.

With hindsight, I have no regrets in taking such a stand to prevent an injustice from taking place even though the Bonello report strongly criticises this position. Ironically, on reading the wider Bonello report in relation to the former HR director at MCAST, it is clear that the person concerned implemented a strategy of manipulation and deceit throughout her tenure at MCAST. This is confirmed in the Bonello report which, among other points, confirms that the former HR director blatantly lied about the President of the Board of Governors in the allegations she made. With hindsight, I have no regrets in taking the position I took on the Pathway report given my concerns about the manipulation being undertaken in relation to this report.   

On a final and wider note, I would like to state that the Bonello report, which has finally been made public and which had never been seen by the undersigned, gives a very partial account of the period concerned. It seems to try to whitewash the role of a partisan political system in perpetrating the toxic culture of clientelism developed in our country over the years and instead points its guns on those who tried to work in this system while actively resisting this culture.

The report concludes that recruitment at MCAST during the period referred to in the article was guided by clientelism and favouritism. This is absolutely untrue. On the contrary, MCAST implemented a fair and transparent recruitment process as a public sector entity despite operating within a climate perpetrated by the partisan political system our country operates in and which creates the occasional blatant clientelistic pitching. Under my watch, the direction given was that all such messages coming over from various ministers, ministries and government offices were to be ignored. Direction was given to all selection boards to operate in a fair and transparent manner by following the relevant procedure designed to ensure this.

Just to give one example, a simple overview of all senior management appointments at MCAST at the time shows that all appointees were qualified and experienced professionals, chosen on merit and coming from all political backgrounds.

In effect, if a toxic culture of clientelism was present, this existed within the political system of the day which expected such a culture to be perpetrated at MCAST too. This was actively resisted throughout my tenure. I also will not comment about the role of the former MCAST HR Director except to say that the directions I gave to ignore any clientelistic overtures from the political world should have applied to her too.

On a final note, I can say with pride that I always undertook my duties at MCAST without fear or favour, with a strong ethical sense and always showing the utmost respect to staff and students. This can be vouched for by the hundreds of colleagues, staff and students I worked with during my six- year term as Principal and CEO of MCAST.”

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