A COURT in Cataluña has ruled that two men on trial for sexual assault committed abuse and not rape, similar to a Navarra court’s ruling in the ‘La Manada’ case.
The Court of Lleida ruled the defendants, aged 19 and 23, abused the woman after meeting her in a nightclub in the town of Viehla. They have each been jailed for four and a half years, with prosecutors having previously requested sentences of 15 years.
The court stated in its ruling that the defendants were not guilty of rape because there was no evidence the woman had tried to resist the assault. Spanish law classes rape as sexual assault where violence is used to subdue the victim.
The court heard the defendants had met the woman in a bar before following her to a nightclub. One of the defendants then went outside to the back of the club with the woman.
That defendant began kissing her and wrapped his legs around her before pushing her against a wall, taking off her underwear and beginning to have sex with her.
The court heard the woman told him repeatedly to stop and began crying. The other defendant then came outside and also assaulted the woman.
The woman later went to a health centre where she told staff there what had happened to her.
The court’s ruling stated the woman found herself “paralysed” and unable to react, shout or resist.
“She continued to express her refusal to what she was being subjected to. No violence or intimidation was used,” the court ruled.
The ruling follows a similar case in which five men were cleared of rape but found guilty of sexually assaulting an 18-year-old woman at Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls festival.
A Navarra Court cleared the men, who became known as ‘La Manada’ (The Wolfpack in English), of rape after finding they did not use violence or intimidation while assaulting her.
The five defendants were later bailed ahead of an appeal. The ruling sparked protests across Spain, with demonstrators claiming the case showed there was institutional sexism in the country’s justice system.
Sentences for sexual abuse and assault are lower than those for rape under Spanish law.