The Times of Malta and other outlets, milked a rape case for all it was worth as Media pundits are wont to do, a story that probably should have been handled like any other that involves sexual assault. But this story had a unique angle, one the judge referred to as macabre. You see, the accused was said to be demonically possessed, while the defense claimed it was the victims who were playing demonic games.
Our sordid story begins in 2019 B.C. (Before Covid) when a teenager was charged with assault of his girlfriend and her Mother. The Times writes:
The 18-year old unemployed Cospicua resident, whose name publication was banned under court order, was remanded in custody after pleading not guilty to rape and other charges of a sexual nature mingled with alleged occult phenomena.
He was also charged with the rape of his mother’s girlfriend, besides holding her and her daughter against their will, forcing both women to perform indecent acts, slightly injuring them and causing them to fear violence.
He was further charged with having engaged in sexual acts with his 15-year old girlfriend, with whom he had been living at her mother’s home.
Prosecuting inspector Eman Hayman explained how the police had been contacted by the 15-year-old, who complained of the young man’s violent treatment and controlling behavior.
Inspector Hayman went on to detail how the Mother was a practitioner of the occult and the defendant used this knowledge to instill fear in the 15-year old girlfriend claiming that her Mother had opened a doorway to Satan himself. Testimony indicated that the defendant played on his girlfriend’s beliefs to coerce her into, not only sex with him, but incestuous acts with her Mother as well.
In one of the earliest hearings on the case, four years ago, attorneys for the defense petitioned the court to order a psychiatric examination of the victims, as the Mother had been admitted to a local hospital up to twenty-five times, but the lawyers admitted they did not know the nature of the hospital admissions. The prosecution objected on the claim that the defense was trying to intimidate the victims, resulting in magistrate Rachel Montebello denying the defense’s request.
The prosecution made it’s own requests of the court, asking for a technological expert to preserve video evidence. A Dr. Azzopardi, presumably testifying for the defense stated; “It requires particular attention because the occult is involved. This was not a mere hobby: an exorcist had been summoned and had to celebrate Mass in the property. Objects flew, voices in strange languages were heard. This is why there are certain injuries.” We only make the presumption that Dr. Azzopardi was making this statement as an expert, the Times piece was not clear, a Jason Azzopardi was a member of defense counsel, along with Kris Busietta and Julian Farrugia.
Matthew Agius of Malta Today reports his version of this original hearing, pointing out that the defendant had been denied bail after; “… he was arraigned over a sickening case of sexual abuse, allegedly involving the occult.”
Agius writes that Inspector Eman Hayman told the judge the following;
“When I say ‘control’, I mean that the mother has a hobby of practicing the occult. The control would happen because the accused would play on her superstitions by saying that she had opened the door to the devil. He took advantage of her. He would use a particular voice. This was all done to satisfy the man’s sexual fantasies. He would manipulate the woman, giving her all types of commands, ranging from the simple to the sexual.
“He would give the girl commands to have sex with her mother,” the inspector went on. “On one occasion he had ordered the daughter to penetrate her mother with an object, but the daughter could not and so he did it himself.”
In his report Agius leaves no doubt regarding the statement of Dr. Azzopardi as the Times reporter did; he writes of this of what transpired during the hearing:
The defense requested bail. “Neither I nor my colleagues have ever met such a case in over 22 years,” Azzopardi said. “It requires particular attention because the occult is involved. This was not a mere hobby, an exorcist had been summoned and had to celebrate mass in the property. Objects flew, voices in strange languages were heard. The root of the claims is this and this is why there are certain injuries. The accused had been on police bail since last month, had he wanted to speak to one of the witnesses, he had ample time to do that, even though he does not need to,” said the lawyer. “The court should not take the charges at face value, said Azzopardi, reminding that the accused was presumed innocent and that the law was restrictive on when bail should be refused.”
Later in 2019, an Exorcist testified in another hearing, however he painted a different picture of the events. Edwina Brincat, a lawyer herself who has been a court reporter for the Times of Malta, including the original piece that the preceding first above was quoted from, wrote the following of the Priest’s testimony; “’The only ‘paranormal’ activity I noticed was that as I was blessing the house and walked outside, there was nobody, but as soon as I went outside, something fell from the stairs – a broken clock,’ Fr John Vella testified.”
Father Vella reported that the Mother had told him she had explored the occult, at times communicating with spirits, using occult paraphernalia, and even placing curses on others. The Exorcist added that she had demonstrated a willingness to repent and has asked him for help.
The Exorcist recanted the claims made by others that they had seen objects fly around the home, glass suddenly breaking and disembodied voices would be heard ordering victims to do unspeakable things.
Defense lawyer Jason Azzopardi asked the Exorcist if he ruled out the possibility of a spirit speaking in a human voice. Edwina Brincat the reporter in this hearing writes; “No,” replied the priest. “But in this case, I didn’t hear this.”
As with so many other cases that were postponed due to the Covid-19 crisis, this case finally went to trial in January of this year. We once again refer to the reports from journalist Matthew Agius from Malta Today, who begins by reviewing the events of the original hearings for his readers, including the sordid details.
After reiterating the nature of the background surrounding the case, Agius continues with the statements of the Inspector who investigated the case:
The victim had told a social worker that she had returned to live with her mother in December 2018. Strange things would happen, lights going out and objects being thrown around, the girl said. At first the voice would command her to do menial tasks, like cleaning, but this later progressed to her and her mother undressing in front of each other.
“On one occasion, the women were ordered to lie face down on the floor…throwing water on them. Then the ‘demon’ had told them to “switch the fan on speed 3”, which theinspector said he thought was a somewhat ridiculous order for a powerful spirit to make.
“In her account, the mother always expressed her belief that the devil was taking the form of the accused. She would see him [the accused] performing the acts but to her, he was a quiet boy.”
The first time she heard the voice was on 15 August 2018, when it commanded her to tell her daughter to move back in with them. Inspector Hayman explained the mother’s background to the judge. The woman had stronglong-standing occult beliefs and would often use voodoo dolls, dancing rods and take partin other occult practices. “She had been doing this for 10 years but no demon had ever spoken to her. Until the accused moved in, that is.” An exorcist had told the court of magistrates that in his opinion, the woman needed psychological help more than exorcism but had celebrated mass at the house to assuage her fears, added the inspector.
In another article by Matthew Agius titled: ‘Demonic’ rape trial: Exorcist tells judge he saw no satanic activity at home, published by Malta Today, Agius reports the testimony given by the Exorcist Priest. Agius writes: