I cannot recall the last time something related to sexual violence trials surprised me. I see and hear a myriad of excuses, justifications, and reasons for letting offenders off all the time. This recent one, however, did shock me.
A pair of Argentinian judges reduced a convicted child rapist’s sentence because they assumed the 6-year-old victim was gay:
The ruling, which was sealed when it came down last year but was leaked to the press, has caused an uproar in Argentina. It has also revealed a pair of judges with a long record of reducing sentences for sexual and gender-based crimes, including justifying a pastor’s rape of two teenage girls because they belonged to a lower economic class.
The court papers show that judges Horacio Piombo and Benjamin Ramon Sal Llargues reduced the sentence of Mario Tolosa, a soccer club coach, who was charged in 2010 with raping the unnamed boy. The pair decided to lower Tolosa’s jail time from six years to 38 months, saying that because the boy’s father may have already raped him, he was used to such abuse and had showed homosexual traits.
In radio and television interviews defending his decision this week, Piombo said the boy had “signs of a transvestite conduct, of conduct we had to take into account,” and argued that he had already had “the initiation by his father into the worst of worlds, leading him to depravation.”
Let us say this is true. Let us say that the boy was raped by his father and showed signs of “transvestite conduct. ” Let us say the boy is indeed depraved.
What does that have to do with the man who raped him?
As depraved and gay as the boy may be, it is illegal to have sex with children in Argentina. Had the child seduced Mario Tolosa, it would still be illegal for Tolosa to have sex with him.
Granted, this is an utterly asinine argument. This boy was raped by his father. Any sexual behavior he displays would directly result from that. To conclude the boy is “gay” because of that behavior makes no sense.
Neither does it make sense to use his presumed sexuality against him. Are the judges arguing that it is okay to rape gay males because they are gay?
Here is some background on the way Argentina’s court system works:
The judicial system in Argentina has three levels: the local court, an appeals level, and a supreme court of the province. The middle level of judges look at closed cases and either confirm or reject sentences based on the original trial proceedings. In this case, [Pablo] Fracchia says, the first judge was the one to decide that the child had homosexual tendencies, based upon a report from a social worker.
It appears that as a result of that report, the judges reduced the original charge of “a gravely outrageous attack.”
There may be an explanation for these judges’ actions:
“We have a very shady judicial system. We have judges who still came from the dictatorship,” Fracchia says. “It’s supposed to be that the second level and supreme court are good enough to correct most of these crazy things, but sometimes they’re also as crazy as the first level.”
Fortunately, both judges resigned following the controversy. That at least prevents them from doing something like this again. Whether other judges will continue to behave in this manner is another matter.