Sexual assault case in Lleida raises specter of La Manada
Absence of "violence and intimidation" leads court in Catalonia to sentence two men to four and a half years in prison for sexual abuse rather than rape
After the public uproar caused by the infamous La Manada sexual abuse case, a new sentence has reopened the debate on courts being too lenient in their verdicts on sexual assault.
The high court in the western region of Lleida this week sentenced two men to four and a half years in prison for sexually abusing a 20-year old woman in the Pyrenean town of Vielha in August.
Despite acknowledging that the woman repeatedly asked her attackers to stop during the ordeal, the sentence takes into account the fact that the woman did not physically resist them, and so the men did not resort to "violence" and "intimidation."
With the prosecutor calling for 15-year jail terms for the two men, the court, while accepting the victim's version of events, it said there was no evidence of "violent or intimidatory acts" that would classify the crime as rape.
As with La Manada case, in which five men were cleared of rape and sentenced for sexual abuse instead, the case in Lleida refocuses public attention on how the judiciary handles such cases, not least with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women due to be held on Sunday.
The events for which the two men were convicted took place outside a nightclub, where one of the men and his uncle were sharing a drink with the victim.
After the uncle and the woman began kissing, the man went on to penetrate her without her consent, afterwards telling his nephew, "now it's your turn."
In court, the woman explained that throughout her ordeal she repeatedly asked the men to stop and even vomited, but was paralyzed with fear.