An outrageous decision in a sex abuse case brought before Judges Horacio Piombo and Ramón Sal Llargués of the Chamber of Criminal Cassation of Buenos Aires was recently made public.
A man charged with sexually assaulting a six-year-old, saw his sentence reduced to 38 months by the two appeal judges who determined the case had mitigating factors, namely that the victim “displayed a homosexual orientation and was accustomed to being sexually abused.”
The accused, Mario Tolosa, former vice-president of the soccer team for which the child played, had already been sentenced to six years in prison after a court found him guilty of the crime of aggravated sexual assault.
In response to the chamber's decision, the Argentine Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Federation (FALGBT) expressed its astonishment and assured the news agency Andar Agencia that the organization would be calling for the impeachment of judges Horacio Piombo and Ramón Sal Llargués.
Estupor en la FALGBT por el fallo que habría reducido la pena a abusador sexual por supuesta orientación sexual de su [víctima]
Total shock at FALGBT over the decision that reduced the sentence of a sexual offender because of the alleged orientation of his victim.
The judges declared that the abuse committed by Mario Tolosa was not responsible for “the warped sexual development of the minor child” and that from their perspective, “it is clear that the child's sexual choice—despite his young age and in light of the considerable testimony of those close to him—had already been made.”
The judges based this conclusion on “prior remarks, recurrent aberrant behaviour and cross-dressing.”
The public defender of the Province of Buenos Aires, Marcelo Honores, characterized the judgment as “perverse” and expressed his concern for “the discriminatory and homophobic arguments” on which the judges’ decision was based.
The prosecutor in the case, Carlos Altube, revealed that the sentence has already been submitted for appeal to the Supreme Court of the Province of Buenos Aires. Its admissibility has been confirmed, and the case now awaits a profound review, with many hoping the man accused of sexual abuse receives a harsher punishment.
Both magistrates were involved in similar proceedings in 2011 when they sought to reduce the sentence of a preacher accused of abusing two adolescent girls, aged 14 and 16. At the time, they argued that the victims “were from a social class in which sexual permissiveness was acceptable at an early age.” And as if that were not enough, the same judges also softened the punishment of a man found guilty of killing his wife:
— La Nacion (@lanacioncom) May 20, 2015
Piombo indulged another abuser and has a pending impeachment against him.
Outrage was expressed across social media:
El fallo de los jueces Piombo y Sal Llagués da vergüenza. Muestran un Poder Judicial burocrático, arcaico y sin ningún tipo de sentido común — Florencio Randazzo (@RandazzoF) May 18, 2015
The decision by judges Piombo and Sal Llagués is embarrassing. It shows a justice system that is bureaucratic, outdated and without a shred of common sense.
— Betty (@bettiana_ciel) May 18, 2015
This moronic “judge” Piombo who calls a six-year-old a transvestite deserves to be thrown in jail!
Meanwhile FALGBT president Esteban Paulón asserted:
“Pretender que la supuesta orientación sexual de la víctima de un abuso quite gravedad al hecho, o sea considerado un atenuante al momento de juzgar un caso de este tipo es discriminatorio, estigmatizante y violatorio de la Convención de los derechos del niño y la ley de Protección Integral a la infancia, al tiempo que cae en el lugar común de vincular la orientación sexual de una persona con un delito como es el abuso sexual, dos aspectos que no tienen ninguna relación.”
To claim that the supposed sexual orientation of a victim of abuse diminishes in any way the seriousness of the matter or constitutes an attenuating factor in passing judgement in the case is discriminatory and stigmatizing, and it violates the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Child Protection Act; at the same time it is misleading to link a person's sexual orientation to a felony such as sexual abuse, two completely unrelated factors.
The scandal also had repercussions in academia. Judge Piombo, who defended himself by saying he “was fulfilling his duty”, will not see his contract renewed in at least one of the universities where he teaches.
Students have asked that both judges be removed from any academic post:
Al Juez Piombo, que le bajó la pena a un violador. lo separaron de la Universidad de Mar del Plata: daba clases pic.twitter.com/4Jda2daKn5
— Gustavo Saldaña (@gustsaldana) May 20, 2015
Judge Piombo who reduced a sexual offender's sentence was fired from the Universidad del Mar del Plata where he taught.
Universitarios se movilizaron para exigir que se expulse de la UNLP a los jueces Piombo y Sal Llargués http://t.co/IMwULIu2QV
— Late Paternal (@latepaternal) May 20, 2015
University students mobilized to demand that judges Piombo and Sal Llargués be expelled from the Universidad Nacional de La Plata.