La Manada sexual abuse case
La Manada (wolfpack) case is a case of sexual violence that happened in Pamplona, Navarre, Spain on July 7, 2016 during San Fermín celebrations. A group of five men sexually abused an 18-year-old woman from Madrid in a building hallway at the city centre of Pamplona. The victim accused them of rape.
The case had strong media coverage because there were video recordings of the events and the commentaries on social networks. The accused from Seville, including a member of the Civil Guard and another of the Spanish Army, were arrested and tried. The judgment was announced on April 26 2018 with the court clearing the accused of sexual aggression, finding them guilty of sexual abuse instead. One of the three magistrates did not agree with his two colleagues and voted for their acquittal.
In the early hours of July 7, an 18-year-old woman reported a rape to the Police of Pamplona, perpetrated by five young people. The woman, who was going to her car to sleep, was accompanied during a part of the journey by the men. She alleged that they pushed her into a doorway of a building. While some committed the crime, others recorded it on their mobile phones. She was later abandoned in the doorway and her mobile phone was stolen.
The perpetrators shared the video of the attack in a WhatsApp group called "La Manada" ("the wolfpack"). Seven clips of this video were studied by the police in a 200-page report in which it is reported that the woman maintained a "passive and neutral" attitude, that her attitude was not "participatory" and that there was "humiliation and vexation" toward her.
The prosecution was represented by the public prosecutor, the victim, the City of Pamplona, and the Government of Navarre. The tribunal considered in the sentence that the victim's testimony was objectively credible, was consistent throughout the investigation, did not introduce "improbable elements" and did not have "spurious motives" to make the accusation. It considered that there was "minimal violence" and "very serious intimidation that prevented the defense of the victim" surrounded by the five men, and that they left her helpless after the event because they took her cell phone. The defendant argued that it was group consensual sex and she had made the accusation for fear that the video could be seen by other people.
On Thursday, April 26, 2018, five months after the trial, the Provincial Court of Navarre published its judgment. The court sentenced the five accused to nine years in prison for continued sexual abuse, although they did not find them guilty of sexual aggression (which would have meant 12 to 15 years of prison). As a result, the convicts were released on a 6,000 euro bail, until a final court decision. On December 5, 2018, the Provincial Court of Navarre confirmed the initial sentence, with two dissenting judges who still considered that the victim was subject to aggression. The sentence is not final.
In Spain, the crime of sex without consent has 2 legal categories, sexual aggression or sexual abuse. Sexual aggression is defined as necessitating violence (violencia) or intimidation (intimidación), sexual abuse is without violence, however there are controversies regarding the interpretation of these legal terms by the public; "intimidation" is more narrow than abusing superiority or influence over the victim.
After the sentence, demonstrations took place in many Spanish cities as a sign of disagreement with the conviction for its 'leniency', as well as the expression of disagreement of different relevant political and social figures.
Feminist associations denounced the sentence, valuing it as especially negative because it can be "very bad precedent" giving the context of the events. They also pointed out that once again women are held responsible for the assaults they suffer. Since 22 June 2018 they are out prison under bail after paying 6,000 euros. American actresses Jessica Chastain and Rose McGowan also expressed their condemnation of the sentence.
During the defendants' parole awaiting the outcome to their appeal, four of them were subject to prosecution for another sex abuse case involving an unconscious 21-year-old woman lying on the defendants' van. In late October, the convicts were declared persona non grata in Pozoblanco, Cordova, hometown of the victim of the male group's alleged assault in 2016, now under investigation. In October 2018, the soldier Alfonso Jesús Cabezuelo, one of the individuals condemned in the case, was expelled from the army months after his conviction.
In late November 2018, the same judge panel in charge of "La Manada" case convicted a man from Lodosa, Navarre, of occasional 'mistreatment' and a 10 month prison term after considering it proved that "he attempted to kill her with a knife and by strangulation while she struggled for life, with their young children watching, but eventually giving up"; the sentence cited the man's mental state as a mitigating factor. Amnesty International has denounced the hurdles found by the victims of gender aggression in the Spanish justice system.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to La Manada.|
- This article has text of «Cronología del caso 'la manada': de la denuncia por violación a la condena por abusos sexuales» by newspaper eldiario.es, under Creative Commons Atribución-CompartirIgual 3.0 Unported.
- This article has text of Sentence N.º 00038/2018 of Audiencia Provincial de Navarra, March 20m 2018, in public domain.