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Old 10-11-2018, 03:40 PM
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Default Canarian Weekly: Gropers beware, you?re fully-fledged criminals

SPAIN’S Supreme Court has ruled that all physical contact of a sexual nature, whether or not deliberate, and irrespective of how briefly, counts as a criminal offence.

This ground-breaking and necessary verdict means grabbing someone’s bottom, breast or legs in a pub, a crowd or on public transport, for example, is no longer a civil wrong. Now, it attracts criminal charges on the grounds of ?sexual abuse?.

This interpretation of Article 181 of the Penal Code clarifies the situation for many victims, the vast majority women, with men the bulk of offenders, since verdicts in lower courts have varied between jailing the authors of this behaviour for sexual abuse, and dismissing it as ?nothing?.

The latter verdict was, particularly, the case when groping was very brief and the court considered it had been too fleeting for the victim to suffer any psychological damage.

Now, though, however swiftly it happens, it is still considered a crime. The severity of it dictates whether the offender is imprisoned for the minimum of six months in jail, or the two-year maximum.

But a custodial term of under two years does not have to be served should it be for a first offence.

Prior to the Supreme Court verdict, unsolicited and unwanted groping was considered a ?minor, civil offence? of ?humiliation?, ?duress? or ?coercion?, and only then if it were very obviously forceful, and lasting at least several seconds.

Sexual intention is required for the offence of ?abuse? to apply, and it must be possible for an objective viewer to recognise it as such, from a description, or from hypothetical, slow-motion footage, although it is not necessary to produce any witnesses.

The legal precedent was set during a recent case, which ended up in the Supreme Court on appeal, three years after the alleged offence.

A man had, reportedly, followed a woman into the ladies’ toilets in a bar in the C?rdoba province of Villanueva, and attempted to enter with her. Briefly, he brushed against her chest and waist when trying to get hold of the keys.

The actual physical contact was not considered ?sexual abuse?, since it was not thought that the accused had deliberately aimed for the woman’s breasts and waist, but that the contact had been accidental.

However, the decision not to charge him in respect of this contact did not take into account its brevity, saying that if the intention had been there, the fleeting nature of it would have had no bearing on the offence being one of ?sex abuse?.

It is not clear what his intention was in following the woman into the toilets, or attempting to get the keys off her, or whether he was charged separately in this connection.
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