In the town of Manresa, Spain, a 14-year-old girl was drugged and raped by five men in an abandoned warehouse. The men took turns assaulting her while she was unconscious, with one of them even brandishing a handgun. Initially charged with sexual assault, their sentences were reduced to between 10 and 12 years for sexual abuse of a minor.
The shocking acquittal came after the judges argued that the victim did not resist the assaults because she was unconscious, and there was no violence or intimidation used during the attack. Spanish law requires violence or intimidation for a charge to be considered sexual assault, which amounts to rape. The court ruled that the victim lacked the ability to consent or oppose the sexual acts due to her state of unconsciousness.
The prosecutors' decision to reduce the charge from sexual assault to abuse also drew criticism from the judges. Two of the men received 12-year sentences for sexual abuse, while two others were cleared of the charge altogether. The fifth man was not convicted of failing to stop the crime as he was accused of masturbating during the assault.
The court awarded the victim compensation of $13,387, acknowledging the severity and denigration of the attack on her sexual integrity. However, this amount is unlikely to cover the extensive therapy she will need to recover from the trauma.
The ruling sparked widespread protests across Spain, with citizens demanding a retrial and the reinstatement of the sexual assault charge. Many believe that the men should receive the maximum sentencing. The case highlights the issue of Spain's legal requirement for violence or intimidation in defining sexual assault, which has resulted in lesser charges for many victims, particularly children.
The outcome of this case has ignited public outrage and calls for reform to ensure justice for victims of sexual crimes and to prevent similar injustices from occurring in the future.