Italian man accused of groping teenager acquitted for crime because it didn’t last 10 full seconds

By Mason Berlinka

Published Jul 13, 2023 at 01:04 PM

Reading time: 1 minute

Outrage has taken over Italian social media after a judge in Rome acquitted a school caretaker after he groped a teenager, because according to the judge, the incident didn’t last long enough. Yeah, we’re shocked too.

The horrific incident occurred in April 2022 and saw 66-year-old caretaker Antonio Avola pull down the trousers of a teenage student, touching her buttock and underwear. As reported by the BBC, upon turning around the assailant told the girl: “Love, you know I was joking.” We’re not laughing.

The disgusting attack was quickly reported by the 17-year-old victim who was failed by the Italian judiciary system after a three-and-a-half year prison sentence was overturned and the molester acquitted. Apparently, what occurred can’t be classified as a crime as it didn’t last for more than ten seconds.

The unnamed student toldItalian newspaper Corriere della Sera: “He groped my bottom. Then, he pulled me up—hurting my private parts. For me, this is not a joke. This is not how an old man should ‘joke’ with a teenager.” The student went on to add that she is “starting to think I was wrong to trust the institutions. This is not justice.”

The controversial ruling has sent social media into a spiral as Italians have started posting videos of themselves, dead eyed, with a timer on screen showing exactly how much can occur within ten seconds. The controversy has made #10secondi trend on TikTok, as well as the phrase “palpata breve,” meaning a brief groping.

@mehths

Quanti sono 10 secondi? Chi decide che sono pochi? Chi li cronometra, mentre subisci una molestia? Il corpo delle donne non è di proprietà degli uomini. Non è di proprietà di nessuno, solo delle donne stesse. Non è del padre che lo vuole consegnare al marito, non è del fidanzato che lo vuole nascondere, non è del compagno che lo vuole governare, non è del figlio che lo vuole proteggere, non è del fratello che ne vuole difendere l'onore. Non avete diritto di toccarli, neanche per un secondo. Figuriamoci per 5, o per 10. Eppure siamo cresciuti (uso il maschile sovraesteso per un motivo) in un sistema che insegna agli uomini che il mondo è di loro proprietà, così come il corpo delle donne. Continuamente sessualizzato, questo corpo ha finito per diventare un mero oggetto sessuale: un oggetto da guardare e commentare, a cui dare un voto e con cui giocare; un oggetto da toccare liberamente, a proprio piacere, in base a quanto serve. E tutto questo è normalizzato, tanto che un uomo sessantenne può palpare una ragazzina minorenne a scuola e uscirne impunito. Perché l'uomo è predatore, che può farci? L'uomo è così per natura, per l'uomo è istintivo, l'uomo non può resistere, se l'uomo è provocato..., l'uomo è goliardico, l'uomo scherzava, l'uomo ti fischia dietro ma è un gioco, l'uomo fa una classifica dei c*li più belli dell'ufficio ma è per divertimento, l'uomo ti avvinghia in discoteca non essere così rigida, l'uomo ti infila la mano nei pantaloni per 5-10 secondi ma sono pochissimi, lascia correre dai, non è una vera molestia. #10secondi

♬ suono originale - mehths

In the above video,TikToker Francesco Cicconetti asked “who decides that ten seconds is not a long time?” and stated that “women’s bodies are not owned by men.” The incident has picked up so much traction that even White Lotus’ Paolo Camilli has posted about it on the video-sharing app:

@paolocamilli

Lo Stato non dovrebbe proteggere? 🤷🏼‍♀️ #10secondi #molestie #reato #attualità

♬ suono originale - paolocamilli

Although I can’t speak Italian, the following skit gets its point across pretty well. Does the ruling seek to legitimise that groping and molestation under ten seconds is fair and valid?

@theconiugi

Sotto i 10 secondi la passi liscia… menomale… MA STIAMO SCHERZANDO?????? #10secondi #leggeitaliana #fakesituation #prank #positivity

♬ suono originale - The Coniugi

The unpleasant videos highlight the absolute stupidity of the ruling—which seeks to invalidate sexual assault and puts women in Italy at further risk of experiencing similar attacks. This comes at a worrying time for Italy as it was reported in 2022 that sexual violence was up by 16 per cent in the country.

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