A Mexican man has been cleared of sexually assaulting a schoolgirl after a judge ruled that he did not enjoy himself.
Diego Cruz Alonso, 21, was found not guilty of assault by Judge Anuar González on Monday, the Guardian reports.
Cruz and three other young men were accused of abducting a 17-year-old girl as she left a New Year’s Eve party in January 2015. All four men came from prominent families in Veracruz, a coastal state on the Gulf of Mexico, and the girl was a fellow student at their elite private school.
The judge ruled that while Cruz was accused of touching the victim’s breasts and penetrating her with his fingers, he was not guilty of sexual assault because he had acted without “carnal intent”.
The girl had claimed that she was forced into a black Mercedes owned by one of Cruz’s friends, Enrique Capitaine Marin, while waiting for a friend to pick her up from outside a Veracruz club. (The car had been a birthday gift from Capitaine’s father, a wealthy Veracruz businessman and politician.)
While in the car, the girl said, she was assaulted by Cruz and another man, Jorge Cotaita Cabrales. She was then driven to Capitaine’s house, where he allegedly raped her. After the incident, Cruz is thought to have called the girl’s friends to come and collect her.
Judge González acknowledged that the girl had been forced into a car, and her claims of assault. In clearing Cruz of sexual assault charges, however, he said that he did not believe that the girl had been “helpless” as she claimed.
Estefania Vela Barba, a women’s rights activist who works in the legal studies department at Mexico’s Centre for Teaching and Research in Economics, says while Cruz may have taken no “pleasure” in the alleged sexual assault, he certainly intended to “humiliate” the girl.
“They were touching her, they were bothering her, [but] for the judge, if the intention wasn’t pleasure, it’s not sexual assault,” Vela tells the Guardian.
She adds: “It’s coming from the judge’s mouth… He’s saying that if they touch you against your will, it [nevertheless] might not be abuse.”
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The case has sparked huge controversy in Mexico, where Cruz and the three other men were nicknamed ‘Los Porkys’ on social media. Judge González’s decision has been interpreted as further proof that the wealthy and well-connected can escape justice – particularly in Veracruz, which already has a reputation for corruption and lawlessness.
The girl’s father, a therapist, told the New Yorker last year that he never expected the men to be punished by the law.
“In Mexico, the last thing the system of justice provides is justice,” he said, adding that he “just didn’t trust the authorities… I knew they would fail us.”
The girl herself, who no longer lives in Mexico and suffers extreme anxiety attacks, has also experienced victim-blaming. The men’s attorney, Edgar Cinta, aggressively challenged her version of events, telling a local television channel that “she says her underwear was pulled down to her ankles, but then she has to spread her legs. I want to know how she did it”. Her supposed “promiscuity” and drinking were also claimed to invalidate her claims of sexual assault.
In an impassioned post on Facebook, the girl tore into the victim-blaming she had faced.
“I’m not hiding,” she wrote. “I’m not saying anything but the truth. I have nothing to repent.”
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