Judge rules sexual assault isn't a crime if it's less than 10 seconds and people are outraged
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Featured Image Credit: Instagram/@heycamilli/Ekaterina Bolovtsova/Pexels
Warning: Contains reference to sexual assault
Members of the public have been left outraged after a judge determined that a caretaker hadn't committed sexual assault because it 'didn't last long enough'.
The controversial ruling came from a judge in Italy, where a 17-year-old student had reported the 66-year-old caretaker to police after an incident which took place in April 2022.
The student had been walking up a staircase in school with a friend, heading to class when she suddenly felt her trousers fall down and a hand touch her bum.
She also felt someone grab her underwear, but when she turned around and saw caretaker Antonio Avola, he said: "Love, you know I was joking."
After Avola was reported to police, he admitted to groping the student without consent - but claimed it was a joke.
A public prosecutor in Rome asked that Avola be sentenced to three and a half years behind bars, but instead the judge acquitted the caretaker of the crime.
Their reasoning was that the events did 'not constitute a crime' because the incident lasted less than 10 seconds.
The student was outraged at the decision, telling Corriere della Sera newspaper: "The judges ruled that he was joking? Well, it was no joke to me."
"The caretaker came up from behind without saying anything. He put his hands down my trousers and inside my underwear.
Calling attention to the '10 second' ruling, the student added: "That handful of seconds was more than enough for the caretaker to make me feel his hands on me."
The ruling has sparked widespread controversy online, with many internet users sharing videos of themselves looking into the camera and touching themselves for 10 seconds to highlight how long that amount of time really is.
The trend began after a video shared by White Lotus actor, Paolo Camilli, and has been picked up by thousands of people, including famous Italian influencer, Chiara Ferragni, who has 29.4 million followers on Instagram.
Another influencer, Francesco Cicconetti, made their thoughts on the judge's decision clear as they wrote on TikTok: "Who decides that 10 seconds is not a long time? Who times the seconds, while you're being harassed?"
"Men don't have the right to touch women's bodies, not even for a second - let alone 5 or 10."
In the wake of the ruling, the student said she feels betrayed by both her school and by the justice system.
"I'm starting to think I was wrong to trust the institutions. This is not justice," she said.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact The Survivor’s Trust for free on 08088 010 818, or through their website thesurvivorstrust.org