Alves victim's lawyer criticizes press persecution of woman during trial

"Hell" after reporting sexual assault includes press showing up at victim's home

Ester Garcia, lawyer of Dani Alves victim
Ester Garcia, lawyer of Dani Alves victim / Laura Fíguls
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

February 23, 2024 05:42 PM

February 23, 2024 11:29 PM

Dani Alves’ victim came to court “very fragile and medicated” because of the “hell” she had gone through after reporting the sexual assault, the victim’s lawyer, Ester García, told Catalunya Ràdio on Friday.  

The victim had to move because the press showed up at her house to find out her identity, said García, stressing that the media had caused the victim “a lot of pain.” 

Not only was it hard enough for the victim that the press was trying to find out who she was, but they also published stories that weren’t newsworthy, questioned the victim, and put the blame on her, according to García.  

For this reason, it had been “very difficult” to keep the victim’s mental health “good enough” ahead of the trial, because of all she had been through, the lawyer said. 

In the interview, she urged media to cover the case in a “neutral and accurate” manner.   

García also stressed that the most important thing for the victim was that the verdict showed that she had been believed and that she hoped that the sentence would be a turning point for the victim and her healing.  

Fear of being identified 

García added that the woman’s primary fear during the ordeal had been that her identity would be revealed.  

And when it was, through a video that circulated online and then published by some Spanish media outlets, and her grandparents found out, the victim told her lawyer “I’ve been raped all over again.” 

For García it was important to lay out the damage that can be caused to victims when false information and opinions, whether intentional or from people who are not experts, can have on rape victims. 

In this case, the victim was not a public figure but had the “bad luck” that her aggressor was. 

Consent key to sentencing 

Dani Alves was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for the sexual assault, a sentence that the victim’s lawyer subsequently criticized as being the lowest she had ever seen in similar cases.  

At the sentencing, one of the key elements that secured a guilty verdict for Alves was the lack of consent

The judges argued that it was “more than clear” that the victim’s will had not been respected.

The question of consent was a key element of the so-called ‘Only yes means yes’ law, approved in the Spanish Congress in 2022 under the then equality minister, Irene Montero

The legislation set a new definition of sexual consent as only "to be understood when it has been freely shown via acts that clearly show the desire of a person, depending on the case," the bill reads.  

In approving the law, Congress also greenlighted getting rid of the difference between sexual abuse and sexual aggression.  

Later, the law became widely criticized for having created a loophole to reduce prison sentences in sexual assault cases.   

Speaking to Catalan radio station RAC 1 on Friday, Montero said that “for the  first time” a sentence recognized that the lack of consent is the basis of sexual assault, calling the sentencing “exemplary.” 

At the same time, Montero said that sentencing someone to four and a half years is the sole decision of the judge, adding that it was related to the general problem of giving minimum sentences for sexual assault.