Child Rapist: Girl Had Many Partners

Italy’s supreme court ruled that a convicted rapist may appeal to lower his sentence on the grounds that his 14-year-old victim was sexually active.

Italy’s highest court ruled Friday that a man who raped the 14-year-old daughter of his girlfriend can seek to have his sentenced reduced because the girl was sexually active, news reports said. The ruling provoked an outcry across Italy, was condemned by UNICEF and prompted other justices on the court to issue a statement saying the ruling was wrong and in the future would be cited as a bad example of a high court decision, the ANSA news agency reported.

The case goes back to 2001, when a court in Sardinia convicted Marco T. of sexual violence and threats against the 14-year-old daughter of his live-in girlfriend and sentenced him to more than three years in prison, ANSA said. He requested a reduced sentence, saying the crime was less serious because the girl had already had several sexual partners.

His request was rejected, but Italy’s high court said the judges should re-evaluate the decision because the girl “since the age of 13 had had many sexual relations with men of every age.” “And it’s right to assume,” the ruling went on, according to ANSA, “that at the time of the encounter with the suspect her personality, from a sexual point of view, was much more developed than what one might normally expect from a girl of her age.”

While this ruling is outrageous on its face–blaming the victim and all that–it makes sense on one level. Presumably, the victim’s youth was considered an aggravating factor in the sentencing. It is not totally unreasonable, then, to weigh her sexual maturity in mitigation.

Still, the idea that rape is repugnant primarily because the victim does not like having sex is repugnant. This defense would be more understandable in the context of a statutory rape case, where the victim willingly participated but is considered too immature under the law to give meaningful consent.

Update: See the Reuters report, “Italian court: Not a virgin? Sex crimes aren’t as serious — Mussolini’s granddaughter slams all-male court after recent rulings” for a typical response to this.

FILED UNDER: Europe, General, Law and the Courts, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Bithead says:

    Not just an aggravating factor, James. But, I would think, central to the case. There’s a lot we don’t know about this case… but it’s not hard to envision what the Judges were thinking… Leaving aside the possibly under-age status…(I’m not sure what constitutes the age of consent in Italy)… Imagine with me for just a moment; did consensual sex become rape when the mother walked in on them?

  2. Lunacy says:

    If she was forcibly raped:

    Your logic, that her sexual activity should have any bearing whatsoever, is akin to the notion that if one is a prostitute her rapist is less guilty. Yes, it is totally unreasonable to factor her sexual “maturity” into it.

    If she was not forcibly raped:

    She is sexually active it can be by no other means than previous statutory rapes!

    If a 7-11 is robbed the fifth time, is that any less a crime than when it was robbed the first, second, third, etc…?

    Furthermore, it is HIS behavior that is under question here. Did HE know she was underage? If you change the focus than EVERY prococious and sexually active child bears some responsibility for thier exploitation.

    It might interest you and those judges to know that sexually abused children are typical oversexed as they rationalize sexuality to be a worthwhile trait that gleans for them positive attention from adults. Adults who take advantage of thier less than adult status and mentality.

    Sexual experience DOES NOT equal sexual maturity.

    I’ve been a teacher to a lot of raped children who have had more partners in their lifetime than me. That doesn’t make them more sexually mature by any stretch of the imagination.

    L

  3. Bithead says:

    How many false charges of rape need we see over time, before it’s proper to at least ask the question, Lunacy?

  4. Bithead says:

    Mind you, I’m not suggesting this guy is on the up and up. I’m merely suggesting that… (Again, leaving aisde the possible age/legality issues)… the crime here doesn’t rise to the level of rape.

  5. Lunacy says:

    If the girl is under the age of consent and there was sex.than there is no such thing as a false charge.

    L

  6. just me says:

    Horrible precedent.

    If a person is forcible raped, then their sexual activity shouldn’t matter at all in sentencing.

    And frankly if the man is an adult, I don’t care if she consented, an adult male should have the self control to not have sex with a 14 year old.

  7. Bithead says:

    True, Lunacy, but as I stated my first response, that’s a pretty big “if”.

    Just me;

    I tend to agree with you from a moral standpoint, but what I’m arguing here is a legal standpoint which is a different thing entirely.