The Civil and Criminal Chamber of the Superior Court of Xustiza de Galicia (TSXG) has acquitted, for not proving that he was aware of the age of the minor, a man convicted by the Provincial Court of Lugo to seven years in prison for sexually assaulting a minor he contacted through the Grindr dating app. The Galician high court considers it proven that, in February 2022, the defendant, who was 41 years old, made an appointment “to have a sexual encounter” with the 14-year-old victim, after having exchanged “messages of a sexual nature.” . The Civil and Criminal Chamber assures that he had sexual relations with the minor inside a vehicle, “all in the belief that he was not a minor, in the terms of the accusation.” He disagrees, therefore, with the trial court, as he states that “it cannot be considered proven that the accused had knowledge that the person he contacted was under 16 years of age.”
“This conclusion is reached after careful deliberation on the alleged defendant, taking into account that it is the minor who is posing as an adult by subscribing to a contact page that only admits adults,” explains the TSXG, al time that affects the fact that this circumstance, to begin with, “cause the presumption in the accused that the person he is meeting with is not a minor.” Based on this information, he states that we must consider “what the accused was required to do or could or should have considered once the minor enters his vehicle.”
The magistrates explain that, in the present case, the accused “nothing could lead him to suspect, in view of the WhatsApp conversations held, the absence of prior knowledge of any kind, the practical absence of dialogue inside the vehicle and the very brief period of time that the meeting lasted (about 11 minutes)” that he was under 16 years of age. “In addition, the young man was wearing a mask, which he did not completely remove at any time, as he acknowledges, just as he acknowledges not having told him his age, and it is equally significant that he did not want to report it nor did he feel deceived, according to his own statements. “, underlines the TSXG, while indicating that, in addition, “the height and corpulence of the minor was greater than that of the accused, making it difficult to distinguish the age in that range, taking into account the differences in physical appearance between individuals.”
The TSXG explains that this is an intentional crime, which does not admit reckless commission, which leads to the issuance of an acquittal. The court, therefore, has appreciated that the sentence of the Provincial Court of Lugo violated the presumption of innocence of the appellant. The ruling is not final, as it can be appealed to the Supreme Court.
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