An employee of the State with the job to take care of underage girls at an open shelter used his access and authority, and exploited their vulnerability, isolation and helplessness, to force them into sex. They’re underage so we can call it as it is: he raped them.

At this point he is innocent until proven guilty. He’s in custody having been charged in court today.

This piece is not about these revolting crimes that are being prosecuted in court. It looks like the institutions have acted on this excuse for a human being and due process has started to visit justice on him.

This piece is about a wider implication that cannot be addressed by the criminal process this offensively designated ‘support worker’ is undergoing.

His victims had no parents or family to watch over them. That is why they were entrusted in the care of the State. The State employed this ‘support worker’ to act on its behalf. He is responsible for his own wrongdoing, of course, but in failing in its duty to care for his victims, the State has failed them too.

And the State must somehow atone for its gross failure, it must somehow act to soothe the incredible suffering the abuse has caused and is yet to cause to people who turned to the State or were referred to it as a last resort. That last resort ended up raping them when it had promised them shelter.

As with the ‘support worker’ the State is innocent until proven guilty. But while the support worker is undergoing criminal proceedings that will determine his responsibility and the appropriate penalty if his guilt is established, there is no process to determine the responsibility of the State and to objectively establish how the State must make amends.

Only an independent inquiry can address those questions. It would investigate whether children in State care are given appropriate protection from the abuse of their vulnerabilities. Whether this support worker was enabled in his evil intent and in the execution of his crime by failure of the State to have the right measure of checks to stop him. Whether the right training, safety and support is provided for children in State care.

If this had happened in a Church institution we’d rightly be screaming blue murder. Why is everyone so silent about the fact that some form of State neglect has allowed a child rapist to have his way with vulnerable children? Is it out of fear that actually someone, somewhere might have to carry some measure of responsibility?

You see just because they all kept their trousers on, it does not mean that anyone who failed to prevent these crimes does not share in the responsibility for the rape of these children. There is criminal culpability. But there is also administrative responsibility. And perhaps an inquiry might even determine political responsibility.

I am not just talking about sitting down with the victims’ pro bono lawyers to negotiate hush money paid for by tax payers. Monetary compensation is appropriate but I am revolted by the case of the Paqpaqli victims who appear to have negotiated from Malta’s President payments in exchange of silence.

The effort there appears to have been actually to prevent the determination of culpability and responsibility before or even after adequate compensation is allocated. The ‘settlement’ was about avoiding further proceedings that might burst the mediaeval myth that a President of Malta and her office can never actually be culpable for anything.

This theocratic logic is unacceptable and it is the same retrograde philosophy that allows the government the space to behave as if now that an officer in its employ is in custody awaiting trial for rape of children assigned to its care, it can look away and pretend nothing has happened.

Of course the complete absence of any consequence for the ‘support worker’’s supervisor, his director, his permanent secretary and his Minister as if none of them could be expected to ensure no one under their responsibility repeatedly rapes children on official premises during official hours, allows all future supervisors, directors, permanent secretaries and Ministers to do nothing to prevent the rape of children under their watch. Why should they care? If the pervert gets caught, he’ll go to prison and the children can get a cheque paid for by the taxpayer if they look like they might have the brains to complain too loud.

This is why we don’t get public inquiries into administrative failures. Because governments prefer to get away with not owning up and living up to their responsibility. You know where this is going. Throwing il-Koħħu, iċ-Ċiniż and il-Fulu in prison does not begin to answer the responsibilities of the State in the heinous crime that eliminated the journalist that would be writing a far better article about these poor young girls today. An independent inquiry might at least start asking the right questions.