Police take former Opera director's sexual harassment case to Supreme court

Aivar Mäe in court on January 18.
Aivar Mäe in court on January 18. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The Estonian police have taken former director of the Estonian National Opera's sexual harassment case to the Supreme Court after Harju County Court annulled the previous fine.

The Supreme Court has yet to announce whether or not it will admit the appeal in cassation by the Police and Border Guard Board into handling.

On Feb 17, the Tallinn-based Harju County Court annulled the fine of €400 imposed on Aivar Mäe and terminated proceedings in his misdemeanor case.

As a description of the misdemeanor, it has been pointed out that Mäe committed acts of a physical sexual nature against one victim at least four times between November 1, 2018 and December 13, 2019, as well as on June 4, 2019 and August 6, 2019.

With the decision made in the misdemeanor case, Mäe was fined 400 euros and in the misdemeanor ruling the time of committing the misdemeanor is set at 1-2 p.m. on June 4, 2019.

Through his lawyers, Mäe contested the misdemeanor ruling in its entirety and did not agree with the statement, denied committing the alleged acts. According to them, the misdemeanor ruling has a narrowly defined period of time, and so Mäe cannot be blamed for what happened at other times. In addition, they consider the victim's statements to be unreliable and inconsistent with other evidence.

The court found that Mäe's conduct did not have the objective elements set out in the relevant section of the Penal Code, which is why the decision of the Tallinn city center police department of the North Prefecture of the Police and Border Guard Board on October 21 last year in the misdemeanor case must be annulled and the misdemeanor proceedings terminated.

The court did not find that Mäe's actions had been against the will of the victim and that his conduct had resulted in degrading the victim's human dignity.

The court found it reasonable to reimburse Mäe for defense fees in the amount of €9,231.60 instead of the requested €14,699.40.

Mäe's lawyer Paul Keres said in court in January that the testimony of the witnesses against Mäe is not reliable and asked for Mäe's complaint to be satisfied.

The police launched proceedings against Mäe on June 26 on the basis of the section of the Penal Code dealing with sexual harassment in order to verify claims by female employees of the Estonian National Opera regarding Mäe's inappropriate behavior. Mäe resigned from his position as head of the Estonian National Opera in August.

Mae's lawyer Paul Keres said back in October that the misdemeanor ruling will be contested as there has been no sexual harassment.

"The event for which Aivar Mäe was punished has not taken place. He was in a completely different place at the time. This has turned out badly for them," he said.

Mäe is currently involved in the establishment of the Artium education and culture center as the project manager of Viimsi Haldus.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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