A convicted child sex offender's prison sentence in Argentina was cut nearly in half — from six years to three years and two months — because judges said the six-year-old victim was "used to" being abused.
The ruling was recently made public by a local television news station and has since caused uproar, particularly among LGBT advocates who say the ruling essentially casts blame on the victim because of his perceived sexual orientation.
Mario Tolosa, manager of a soccer team for children in the neighborhood of Vicente López in the Buenos Aires province, was originally sentenced in April 2012. The victim, whose identity has not been released due to his age, was 6 years old when Tolosa took him to a restroom during a soccer match and molested him. When the child got home, he told his grandmother what happened, and she reported it to the police.
The victim is now 10 and, due to the judges' ruling, Tolosa could be out of jail soon.
You can read the full ruling here:
BuzzFeed News analyzed the ruling by judges Horacio Piombo and Ramón Sal Llargués, quote by quote:
It is clear that the minor's sexual choice, spoiled at a young age, due to the large testimonies of people close to him, has already been made (according to reports about the recurrence of the offer and transvestism).
Translation: Since the unidentified child was gay, the abuse wasn't as bad as if he weren't.
In a phone interview with BuzzFeed News, Esteban Paulon, president of the Argentine LGBT Federation, said that the fact that the victim is presumed gay makes a huge difference and could set a "horrible precedent."
"Due to the kid's apparent sexual condition, the sexual abuse wasn't declared as aggravated, and therefore a lighter sentence was passed," Paulon said.
The ruling, Paulon added, treats the victim as if he were partially to blame.
Piombo and Sal Llargués, both judges from the Buenos Aires Chamber of Criminal Appeals, signed the ruling last year, but it was only made public last week by local TV news channel C5N.
"This ruling is terrible," Paulon said. "We still don't get the logic of the people who passed this sentence. Being gay is not a crime. We shouldn't let cases like this one go by...it sets a horrible precedent."
The Argentine LGBT Federation is teaming up with other organizations and influential people in Argentina to demand that the judges in charge of the case undergo a political trial.
Quoting another section of the highly criticized ruling:
Ignore up to which extent this approximation has allowed us to formulate these contributions in this cause, given that in a remote past, the little kid whose father went to prison because of abuse and whose mother would abandon him to a grandmother who, overall, has not proved (the ruling demonstrates this) too much interest in the development of the child.
LGBT advocates and local media outlets have interpreted the section as the judges contending that a history of previous abuses makes a new assault less serious. The section of the ruling was initially read as if the father had been abusing the child, but that was denied by the victim's attorney, Javier Cicero, in news reports.
Cicero did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News' request for comment.
In another section, the judges state that since the victim was "used to" being abused, Tolosa's attack wasn't as serious.
With the lack of any imputation that refers to a deviation of the minor's sexual development, the accused party has had lascivious behavior with this unlucky boy, but given everything we have said (...) I don't think this sexual abuse has resulted in a practical, serious, outrageous act (...) I am hesitant due to the familiarity this kid already demonstrated in his sexual disposition.
In any case, and at his young age, he was going through a precocious choice of this sexuality before the pleasing eyes of those who could (and should) help him in this process.
Since the ruling became public, critics have taken to social media to slam the judges.
The Tolosa case isn't the only one to see prison terms reduced, Clarín, one of Argentina's most reliable news sources, reported.
In 2006, a rapist's sentence was reduced due to his psychological profile. In 2012, a man who abused his 12-year-old stepdaughter was let free despite having violated some jail rules. And in 2014, a music teacher who molested four girls aged 6 to 9 served just 25 years of his original 40-year prison sentence.
Piombo and Sal Llargués did not respond to several requests for comment from BuzzFeed News.
Mariano Parada López and Ricardo Heurtley contributed to this reporting from Argentina.
Mariana Marcaletti is the International News Coordinator for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Mariana Marcaletti at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.