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'I never withdrew police complaint', says LSA cleared of sexual abuse

'The inspector who investigated took more than five years from my life'

Investigators never visited the Għajnsielem Primary School where the alleged case of sexual abuse took place.

Investigators never visited the Għajnsielem Primary School where the alleged case of sexual abuse took place.

A Gozitan learning support assistant recently cleared of sexual abuse insisted she never withdrew the complaint against the police inspector who investigated her case and expects the internal probe to continue.

Karen Mercieca, 38, from Qala, said it was not true that she had withdrawn her grievance.

On the contrary, she was looking forward to the outcome so that the question marks revolving around her case met some kind of reply.

READ: 'Having to prove my innocence took away my life'

Last weekend, The Sunday Times of Malta carried a story with replies from the police that the internal probe into the way the police handled the investigation had stopped when Ms Mercieca withdrew her complaint.

But she is contesting the veracity of this statement.

"It is absolutely not true that I withdrew my complaint. All I had was one meeting with a police inspector from the Internal Affairs Unit and that’s all. I never heard anything after that so it is really unfair that they now say I withdrew the complaint," a heartbroken Ms Mercieca said.

"I expect them to continue the probe because the police inspector who investigated my case took more than the five years I spent in court from my life. I am still trying to regain my health."

The LSA of 11 years was cleared by a court of having defiled an 11-year-old girl with a learning disability at the Għajnsielem Primary School in November 2011.

Her acquittal in 2015 was then confirmed on appeal earlier this year. Ms Mercieca's professional and personal life came crumbling down soon after noticing what looked like a cigarette burn on the girl's arm, which she reported to the school head.

She was then called in by the police, who were looking into a claim, made by the girl's mother and aunt, that she had touched the child inappropriately. The girl was in Year 6.

The investigators never visited the school and did not even speak to colleagues to verify whether it was even possible that she was alone with the child

Ms Mercieca said she believed the investigation was not conducted properly and was not professional. The investigators never visited the school and did not even speak to colleagues to verify whether it was even possible that she was alone with the child, she said.

Magistrate Joe Mifsud, who handed down the first judgment that cleared Ms Mercieca of all charges, also commented on the investigation and about how many questions were left unanswered.

He highlighted the fact that the burn found on the child had not been investigated by the police.

Ms Mercieca wants these questions answered through the internal investigation.

“At the least, I want to have replies to the questions the magistrate raised in his judgment. I think I have a right to them,” Ms Mercieca said.

She explained that she had sent an angry letter to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and former police commissioner Michael Cassar complaining about how the police went about investigating her case. She also said the inspector was dating a relative and should have never taken on the case.

Mr Cassar had replied saying he had ordered an internal investigation into the claims.

But in reply to questions from this newspaper, the police now said that an internal investigation had started but was then stopped as it “was not pursued further from the side of complainant”.

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