A 21-year-old member of a wealthy, prominent Mexican family has been acquitted after a judge ruled his abduction and assault of a 17-year-old girl did not meet the legal definition of assault because the young man did not enjoy himself during his actions.
Judge Anuar González acquitted Diego Cruz, one of four young men from well-connected families in the Mexican state of Veracruz who were charged with taking a female classmate from their exclusive Catholic high school as she left a New Year’s party on Jan. 1, 2015, in the city of Boca del Rio, reported Britain’s Guardian newspaper.
In his ruling, González did not dispute the facts of the case. According to charges, the victim was forced into the car belonging to one of the four. The quartet of friends identified themselves by the name, “Los Porkys,” on social media and were all sons of wealthy businessmen or politicians. All were legal adults at the time of the incident.
Cruz and one of the other men, who remains at large, were charged with touching the young woman’s breasts and penetrating her with their fingers. A third male, accused of raping the victim later that evening, is awaiting a ruling. The fourth male who was present during the assault was not charged with taking part.
The case came to national attention after the young woman’s father released two videos that appear to show Cruz and the other men confessing to the crime, reported the Los Angeles Times.
“We made a mistake,” Cruz is shown saying. Later, he and the other “Los Porkys” released a statement claiming they had been forced to apologize and that they were innocent.
Cruz fled to Spain last year and lived under another identity until he was arrested in June by Interpol and returned to Mexico.
The case has drawn widespread criticism in Mexico, first because authorities delayed investigating the charges and now because of González’s decision.
González ruled that despite the circumstances, the victim was not “helpless” at any time and that Diego was not pursuing “carnal pleasure,” but merely guilty of “incidental rubbing” committed without “lascivious intent.”
The young woman’s father, who says he earlier filmed the men’s confessions because he doesn’t trust the nation’s justice system, expressed his anger over the acquittal.
“Imagine, any adult can touch any person, of whatever age, and go free by saying it was not lascivious, and that there was no intent to have sex,” he told a radio reporter.
More than 80% of sexual assaults in the country are never reported, according to Mexico’s National Institute for Women. Thousands of women in the state of Veracuz have gone missing as rival criminal groups compete. Two weeks ago, authorities uncovered a mass grave believed to be part of a drug cartel burial site containing more than 250 human skulls in Veracruz. The state’s former governor is being sought for allegedly stealing a large sum of public money.
Although acquitted, Cruz remains in custody. González’s decision must undergo review by a circuit-court judge before the accused is released.