Italian Court Acquits School Aide of Sexual Assault Charges Due to ‘Brief’ Contact, Sparking Outrage and Social Media Campaign

Italian Court Clears School Aide of Sexual Assault Charges

Italian court acquits school aide accused of sexual assault, citing lack of intent and short duration of contact.

In a recent ruling, an Italian court cleared a school aide who had been charged with sexually assaulting a student. The court determined that the aide’s actions, which involved briefly touching the student for “5 to 10 seconds,” did not demonstrate any “libidinous or lusty intent.” The incident occurred when a 17-year-old high school student, known as “Laura,” was climbing the stairs of her school alongside a friend. As Laura hiked up her pants, the 66-year-old school aide, Antonio Avola, approached her from behind. He then slipped his hand inside her trousers and lifted her slightly by her underwear.

While Avola admitted to touching the girl, he maintained that it was meant as a joke. The Roman prosecutors sought a three-and-a-half year jail term for Avola. However, the court, in its ruling on July 6, concluded that the brevity of the contact left “ample margins of doubt” about Avola’s intentions. The defense argument that it was a joke was ultimately deemed “convincing” by the court.

Laura, who is now 18, expressed her disappointment and anger following the verdict. In an interview with the Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera, she described the incident and stated, “The janitor came up from behind without saying anything. Then he put his hands down my trousers and inside my panties. He groped my butt. Then he pulled me up so much that my private parts hurt. This, at least for me, is not a joke.”

The court justified its ruling by emphasizing the absence of any intent to molest the student. The judge’s opinion stated that the suddenness of the action and the lack of persistence rendered the touch “almost a light touch.” Therefore, it did not meet the threshold for criminal intent as required by law.

The ruling has sparked outrage in Italy, leading to a social media campaign under hashtags such as “#10secondi” and “#palpatebreve” (“quick grope”). Men and women have posted videos of themselves caressing themselves or others for ten seconds, along with a countdown timer, highlighting the duration of the action. The campaign aims to shed light on the significance of even a brief touch and question the court’s decision.

In conclusion, an Italian court has cleared a school aide of sexual assault charges, citing the lack of intent and the short duration of the contact. The ruling has caused controversy and ignited a social media campaign in Italy, as people express their disbelief and frustration at the court’s decision. The case raises important discussions about the interpretation of intent in sexual assault cases and the impact of the legal system on victims of such incidents.