John Suda was invited yesterday by the organisers of the Malta Fashion Awards for a bit part introducing to the stage Ira Losco. They invited him along with all the presenters who hosted the event in its 20 year history.

They should not have.

Three years ago John Suda, then 64, was charged for violent indecent assault of a 22 year old woman. He groomed her on Facebook having found she wanted to audition for a play he wrote. He met her ostensibly to rehearse with him. He locked both of them inside, blindfolded her, talked her into taking all her clothes off as he took off his and had her hand on his penis.

These facts are not contested by him. The only fact in dispute is whether he placed her hand on him or, as he says, she did on his instructions.

His defence, such as it is, is artistic license. He was apparently teaching her to get over her inhibitions. For professional reasons, you see.

The case is still open.

Let’s not start the presumption of innocence thing, shall we?

A male in a position of power and influence in his profession manipulates a young woman and forces his power on her for sexual gratification.

Others before this woman reportedly suffered similar experiences but were afraid to come forward. They figured their chances of progressing in their career after accusing a man of such influence and reputation were greatly reduced. I have spoken to people who worked with him and they speak of whispers way before this incident came to light. Women were pressured into silence  out of sympathy for his family and out of respect for his undoubted acting skills.

No doubt he’s a great actor. So is Kevin Spacey.

As women of the world stand up after the Harvey Weinstein scandal and say #metoo, the Malta Fashion Awards invite John Suda over to introduce one of the most iconic women of our community as if nothing ever happened.

He will have had much to admire while he was there. 

And that perhaps is the most hurtful thing about this. Young women in the fashion and theatre industries are surrounded by dirty old men. The organisers of the Malta Fashion Awards yesterday rather than empower young women to be able to repel their advances, reinforced the silence that protects the men instead.