A Barcelona court acquitted five men accused of gang-raping a 14-year-old girl on Thursday after ruling that the defendants 'were able to commit sexual acts without using any type of violence or intimidation.'
A rape charge in Spain requires a plaintiff to present evidence of intimidation or specific violence such as being threatened with a knife or dealt physical blows.
The men, who were initially charged in Spain with the crime of sexual assault, were instead convicted of the lesser crime of sexual abuse of a minor, and sentenced to between 10 and 12 years in prison.
The more serious charge of sexual assault would have resulted in a prison sentence between 15 and 20 years. The horrific crime, which took place in an abandoned factory building in Manresa, a municipality in Barcelona, happened on October 29, 2016.
The defendants were accused of taking turns raping the victim who accused the main defendant, a man named Bryan Andres, of telling his friends they had '15 minutes each' to take turns raping her while he brandished a handgun.
Two of the men were given the longer prison sentence of 12 years, after the court ruled that they were guilty of the additional crime of continuous sexual abuse, while two defendants were cleared of the sexual abuse charge.
In one of those cases, the defendant was accused of masturbating while the victim was being raped. The court ruled that it could not prove that the man had committed the offense of failing to stop a crime.
The attack on the victim's sexual integrity was extremely severe and especially denigrating, and what's more, was against a minor in a situation of distress.
Court ruling The court ruled that the victim, who had consumed drugs and alcohol on the night in question, was unable to consent and did 'not know what she was and wasn't doing, and consequently, did not have the ability to agree to or oppose the sexual relations most of the defendants had with her.'
The court awarded the victim €12,000 (£10,300) in damages, stating that 'the attack on the victim's sexual integrity was extremely severe and especially denigrating, and what's more, was against a minor in a situation of distress.'
The case mirrors a similar case in Pamplona last year that caused widespread outrage and triggered large protests in Spain.
In 2018 a court in Navarre found five men guilty of sexual abuse after gang-raping an 18-year-old woman at the annual Running of the Bulls festival in Pamplona in 2016.
In the case, the men, dubbed the 'Wolf Pack' were initially cleared of sexual assault after the court ruled that they had also not used violence or intimidation against the victim.
However, Spain's Supreme Court overturned the decision in June this year and convicted the men of the more serious crime of rape, increasing their prison sentences to 15 years.
The similarities between the cases has led to the defendants being dubbed 'La Manada de Manresa,' the Wolf Pack of Manresa in Spanish.
The protests in response to the initial Wolf Pack verdict caused pushed the ruling PSOE caretaker government to create a commission to review Spanish rape laws.
However the findings of the commission, which concluded in December last year, have still not been acted on by the Spanish government.