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Five men acquitted of rape because unconscious 14-year-old girl didn't fight back

Spanish law requires ‘violence or intimidation’ for a sexual assault conviction.
Credit: AP Images

BARCELONA, Spain — It’s a case that captivated a nation – and could now lead to a major change in how Spain prosecutes sex crimes.

The BBC reports five men were accused of gang-raping an unconscious 14-year-old girl. They each faced up to 20 years in prison, but the court ruled they could not be convicted of sexual assault because the girl was unconscious -- and she didn't fight back.

According to Spanish law, the legal definition of sexual assault includes ‘violence or intimidation,' so the men were convicted of sexual abuse instead.

They’ll now serve 10 to 12 years behind bars instead – basically half the time they could have spent in prison on the more serious charge.

The mayor of Barcelona called it an “outrageous sentence.” – and there’s a push for protests against the decision. That’s putting pressure on the Spanish government to change the law by defining any sexual act committed without consent – as assault.

Credit: AP Images
Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau

This case is bringing up bad memories of a 2016 attack that took a similar path through the Spanish justice system.

It became known as the 'wolf pack' case.

Five men were accused of raping a young woman during botellón -- a traditional celebration that centers around young people getting drunk in public.

CNN reports the men were originally acquitted of sexual assault -- and found guilty of sexual abuse -- because of a controversial interpretation of the legal definition of 'intimidation'.

After widespread outrage, their prison sentences were increased from nine years to 15.

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