Uproar over court ruling in teacher sex case
5 May 2005, MADRID — Parents' groups and children's rights campaigners demanded changes to Spain's sexual abuse laws after the country's highest court ruled there was nothing wrong with a teacher having sex with a 14-year-old schoolgirl.
5 May 2005
MADRID — Parents' groups and children's rights campaigners demanded changes to Spain's sexual abuse laws after the country's highest court ruled there was nothing wrong with a teacher having sex with a 14-year-old schoolgirl.
Overturning a previous ruling, the supreme court threw out the case against a 31-year-old karate tutor who had sex on at least six occasions with the girl, the British daily The Guardian reported.
The court said there was "noting wrong or perverse" in his actions.
He had taught at a secondary school in the southern town of Aguilar de la Frontera. The girl later sought psychiatric treatment.
The part-time teacher, named only as José M, was also a member of the town's police force.
His one-year suspended jail term has been quashed and he is now eligible to return to work.
"I do not give my children over to a teacher so that they can be taken advantage of," said Luis Carbonel, of the Catholic Confederation of Parents' Associations.
"If teachers cannot be punished for doing this then there will have to be a change in the law," he added.
The supreme court argued that, with Spaniards able to marry at the age of 14 if they have their parents' consent, there was nothing untoward about a girl having sex with a teacher at such a young age.
"All we can do is consider this to be an early start to sexual activity, though it is not exactly exceptional in the current times," the court said, according to a report in the ABC daily and other newspapers.
The teacher was deemed not to have taken advantage of the girl when they had sex at his house and at his father's garage in the town.
The supreme court pointed to a lack of "violence, intimidation or trickery" on the part of the teacher.
"The essence of the acts is normal," it said.
However, the court's ruling caused uproar among parents groups.
"A 14-year-old girl is not old enough to take decisions of this kind," Gines Martinez, head of Spain's lay Confederation of Spanish Parents Organisations, said in an interview with La Razon newspaper.
Spain, however, has one of the lowest ages of consent in the world, at just 13.
This was raised from 12 in 1999 by the conservative People's party government of former prime minister José Maria Aznar.
"We see the age of consent as very low," said Carmen Gonzalez, of the Madrid regional government's Children's Ombudsman's office. "We think it should probably go up to 14."
Other European countries generally place the age of con sent at between 14 and 16 - although it is 17 in Ireland.
The court overturned a suspended one-year jail sentence for corrupting a minor and a six-month ban on the police officer working as a public servant.
It said that, while the girl had shown signs of "serious alterations" in her personality and a "marked fall" in her school work, it could not be said that her relationship with the teacher would produce significant problems in her future sex life.
The anxiety she had shown, it said, could just as well have been caused by her parents' reaction to finding out about the relationship as by the fact that she had sex with her teacher.
The court recognised that the teacher had made his first approaches to the girl during karate lessons, turning the physical contact of the sport into something more intimate.
It said the most remarkable thing about the relationship was the age difference between girl and teacher.
Subject: Spanish news