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2 Men Convicted of Rape in Italy Given Retrial Because the Victim Drank Alcohol

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Italy’s highest court has made way for two men, who were convicted of rape over a year ago, to receive a retrial based on the court’s finding that the woman victim had voluntarily consumed alcohol on the night of the attack.

According to the Guardian, Italy’s court of cassation acknowledges that the men “took advantage” of the victim, but argues in its decision for a retrial that the victim’s drinking prior to the attack essentially precludes the men from being punished past a certain extent:

“...the court of cassation has ordered a retrial in order to revise the sentence, saying that even though the defendants took advantage of the woman’s drunken state in order to have forced sex with her, aggravating circumstances were not applicable because she had voluntarily consumed alcohol.”

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The two men were found guilty of rape by a court in Turin in January 2017, after they were found not guilty years before, in 2011, by a judge in Brescia who “found the victim’s account of events unreliable.” According to the Guardian, the alleged rape took place in 2009, in a bathroom after the men and woman had a meal together, and the woman showed up at the ER a few hours later.

In many ways, the Guardian’s coverage of the case makes each court’s rationale to convict, not convict, or retry the defendants seem equally paper-thin. The court that found the two men guilty is described as making its decision based on evidence that indicates the woman “tried to resist the attack.”

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Then again, the victim drank that night—which apparently matters more than the potentially predatory actions of the defendants or how hard she fought back. Was she wearing a short skirt, too?

Senior Writer, Jezebel

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DISCUSSION

biturbowagon
Biturbowagon

This is awful for the woman in question.

That said, there are so many issues with this case, many of which would not arise in a court of law in the United States. (Different countries have different systems, of course.)

First of all, in the United States, they would never have been convicted in the first place. Why? Because “they were found not guilty years before, in 2011, by a judge in Brescia who ‘found the victim’s account of events unreliable.’” Irrespective of the merits of such a decision, double jeopardy would have precluded a retrial, absent extraordinary circumstances.

Next: “aggravating circumstances were not applicable because she had voluntarily consumed alcohol”: is this because of a law that the judge had to abide by? Is this law poorly written? Sexist? Worse? Or was the judge rogue? Or what is behind this?

Furthermore, is the issue about the “aggravating circumstances” that the woman consumed alcohol, or is the issue that this information was not originally reported to the defense? In the U.S., withholding information from the defense can be grounds for a retrial.

I could go on, and I bet that others can contribute to all of this.

What a shame that the victim has to have been put through all of this. Alas, in this she has a great deal of company in the U.S., where victims can be revictimized. Then again, we also know how often defendants are treated badly in the U.S. Life can be Hobbsian.