Controversial Ruling on Groping Sparks Outrage in Italy

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Trigger warning: Sexual Assault

Judges with the Court of Rome acquitted the accused school janitor, as they deemed the act to be too short-lived to qualify as sexual assault.

Apparently, sexual misconduct has a time limit requirement? In a ruling that ignited both outrage and disbelief across Italy, a court found a school janitor not guilty of groping a student because the incident *only* lasted 5 to 10 seconds.

Judges with the Court of Rome acquitted the 66-year-old, as they deemed the act to be too short-lived to qualify as sexual assault. Per multiple reports, the judgment detailed that the incident occurred in April 2022 while the victim, a 17-year-old at the time, was ascending a staircase with a friend at school.

The teen recounted in her testimony that she felt a hand intrusively tucked inside her trousers, under her undergarments, touching her butt. To make matters worse, the janitor reportedly attempted to dismiss the incident with the remark, “Love, you know I was joking.” During the trial, the janitor admitted to groping the student without consent but said it was a “clumsy joke.”

The court’s decision has rightfully sparked a wave of protests and a viral social media trend in response. Italians have flooded Instagram and TikTok with videos featuring individuals touching a sensitive part of their bodies for a full ten seconds, timed by a stopwatch. This collective action aims to demonstrate that even a relatively short period of time can cause discomfort, significantly impact a person’s life, and qualify as sexual assault. The hashtags #10secondi and #palpatabreve (“brief groping”) accompany most of these posts, helping to amplify the message.

Some prominent Italian figures, including actor Paolo Camilli from “The White Lotus,” joined the social media movement, using their platforms to question the state’s role in safeguarding its citizens. Camilli posted a video on his Instagram account, accompanied by the caption, “Shouldn’t the state protect us?”

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