The Provincial Court of Santa Cruz de Tenerife has cleared a man of charges of ongoing sexual exploitation of a woman with a 69% disability. It couldn’t be proven that the accused was aware of her condition or that it impacted her ability to engage in consensual relationships.
The Prosecution sought a sentence of 9 years in prison and a fine of 30,000 euros, asserting that the young woman had moderate mental retardation and behavioural issues stemming from childhood linguistic psychosis.
According to the ruling, the accused befriended the woman in 2016 and 2017 as she frequented the bar where he worked, either with friends or alone, and had taken a cocktail course.
The complainant stated that she had engaged in several sexual encounters with the accused in his car and at his house, receiving money, glasses, or nail polish in return. She claimed that the man was unaware of her disability and she didn’t express any interest in him knowing about it, asserting that they had complete relationships and that she took photos of him, although no compromising images were found on his phone.
During the trial, the defendant denied the allegations, admitting that he knew the young woman and that her mother confronted him at the bar about his involvement with her daughter.
The defendant stated that he never detected any abnormality in the young woman, and at that time, he had a girlfriend, maintaining only regular customer relationships with the complainant.
However, the complainant’s mother argued that a conversation with her daughter would make it apparent that she has a disability, describing it as moderate and affecting her ability to read, write fluently, and understand numbers.
Witnesses for the defence, the accused’s colleagues and friends, described her as a normal, attractive girl who enjoyed socialising, asserting that they never noticed anything amiss.
Additionally, considering the statement was made five years after the alleged events, the court noted that the complainant did not view them as traumatic and did not suffer any lasting effects, as confirmed by experts.
Therefore, the judges expressed uncertainty as to whether the account “stems from imagination, memory, or fantasy, as no evidence leads to a conclusion, given the lack of a trace of memory”.
The court deemed the testimony “induced and entirely flawed, even more serious when concerning people with disabilities,” thus rendering the potential truth of the testimony “invaluable.”
They observed various contradictions in the testimony and noted that it seemed coerced, as the answers were guided by the questioning.
Furthermore, the court doubted whether her disability would easily become apparent in casual conversation in a bar with loud music; indeed, none of the employees were aware of it and described her as a normal girl.