After five men drugged a 14-year-old girl and took turns raping her, they were initially given lengthy prison sentences for their horrific crimes. However, once the judge heard their testimonies, each of the men was acquitted all because of what the child victim failed to do.
In the northern Spanish town of Manresa, Bryan Andres and four other men managed to lure a 14-year-old girl to an abandoned warehouse with the promise of partying. After plying the girl with alcohol and drugs, she finally passed out from severe intoxication. It was then that the men seized the opportunity to fulfill their sinister fantasies.
According to the BBC, the men took turns raping the girl while she lay unconscious. Andres was accused of telling his friends they had “15 minutes each” to do whatever they wanted with the incapacitated child. As they carried out heinous sex acts on the girl, Andres brandished a handgun in case she woke up during the assaults.
“It’s your turn. Fifteen minutes each and no delay,” Andres allegedly said.
Initially, the men were charged with sexual assault, a crime that carries a prison sentence of between 15 and 20 years per charge. Disturbingly, a court in Barcelona cut those sentences down to between 10 and 12 years in prison by reducing the charge to sexual abuse of a minor, the Daily Mail reports.
In a move that has shocked the nation, all five men were acquitted of rape charges after the judges excused their crimes by pointing out that the child victim didn’t resist their sexual advances, despite the fact that this was because she was unconscious. The court also cited that there was no “violence” used during the attack, which was also because the child was passed out.
The court ruled that the victim did “not know what she was and wasn’t doing, and consequently, did not have the ability to agree to or oppose the sexual relations most of the defendants had with her,” El Pais reported.
It added that the defendants “were able to commit sexual acts without using any type of violence or intimidation.”
For a charge to be considered sexual assault under Spanish law, which amounts to rape, there must be violence or intimidation used by the accused. The absence of such force was used as an excuse for giving the offenders a more lenient charge and subsequently shorter sentence.
However, the judges weren’t the only ones to blame for the outrageous outcome. In fact, the judges expressed “surprise” that the prosecutors decided to reduce the charge from sexual assault to abuse at the last minute. The prosecutors explained that they saw no reason for the more serious rape offense in this particular case.
Two of the men were sentenced to 12 years in prison for sexual abuse but also received further sentencing for additional crimes, including continuous sexual abuse. Two others were cleared of the sexual abuse charge altogether. In the case of the fifth man, the court ruled that it couldn’t prove that he had even committed the offense of failing to stop a crime since he was accused of masturbating while the victim was being raped.
Ultimately, the court awarded the minor victim $13,387 because “the attack on the victim’s sexual integrity was extremely severe and especially denigrating.” Sadly, the compensation likely isn’t even enough to cover the years of therapy the victim will need in order to overcome this horrific attack.
Since the court’s ruling, massive protests have broken out across Spain. Angry citizens have called for the case to be retried and for the proper charge of sexual assault to be reinstated. Many are hoping for the maximum sentencing for the men, although it is an unlikely outcome.
Because Spain requires violence or intimidation for a crime to be considered sexual assault instead of abuse, many victims, especially children, have seen their attackers walk away with lesser charges.