‘A Brief Groping’

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An Italian judge ruled this week that groping is not a crime if it lasts less than 10 seconds, a verdict that prompted outrage in Italy over concerns that it will deter victims of sexual harassment from reporting it to the police, the New York Post reported Thursday.

The case centers on an April 2022 incident when the defendant, Antonio Avola, groped a 17-year-old girl at a high school in Rome.

Avola, a 66-year-old caretaker at the school, crept up on the girl while she was walking up a stairwell, pulled her pants down and fondled her buttocks and underwear.

When the girl reported the incident to the police, Avola admitted to the act but insisted that he was only joking.

Prosecutors called for a conviction for sexual assault and a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence, but the Rome court found him innocent and said that groping “does not constitute a crime” if it didn’t last for 10 seconds or more.

The girl – now 18 years old – plans to appeal the case and warned that the ruling might deter sexual harassment victims from coming forward, Insider added.

Meanwhile, Italians took to social media to post videos ridiculing the court’s decision. Men and women posted videos in which they stare stone-faced at the camera while groping their breasts and chests alongside a timer counting down from 10 seconds.

Often tagged with #10secondi or “palpata breve” – Italian for “a brief groping” – the videos are intended to demonstrate how unnervingly long 10 seconds can be, especially during a sexual assault.

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