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Italians outraged after judge clears school janitor of groping student because contact was under 10 seconds

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July 14, 2023
By The Associated Press

Italians are using social media to denounce a court verdict clearing a school janitor of a sexual assault charge for groping a 17-year-old student because it only lasted “around five/10 seconds.”

The teenager said the man came up from behind her as she was pulling up her trousers while walking up the stairs in a Rome high school, and slipped his hand beneath her underpants, according to court documents. Pulling on the undergarments, he then lifted her slightly in the air. He admitted to groping her in the April 2022 incident but claimed it was a joke.

A court in Rome ruled last week that the groping was `just a few seconds” and wasn’t sexual, and that it was so brief that his argument that it was a joke was convincing even if “inopportune.”

Actor and comedian Paolo Camilli, who appears in The White Lotus, posted a video on TikTok this week fondling his chest in front of the camera as a chronometer counts down 10 seconds. “If this is not molestation, I don’t know what is,” he said.


The video has spawned copycats with both men and women fondling their chests to a countdown clock.

Other videos include a woman apologetically excusing a man who has grabbed her rear-end after he said he touched her for fewer than 10 seconds, so had committed no crime.

The case has been criticized by women’s rights organizations.

“It is molestations in all respects,” said Elisa Ercoli, president of Differenza Donna. “The judge didn’t say it didn’t happen. He recognized that there was a violation of the woman’s intimacy. We don’t understand this interpretation.”

Ercoli said the case was particularly serious because it happened on school grounds, where “adults should make girls and boys feel protected and safe.”

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