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Social media trend mocks ‘brief groping’ ruling by Italian judge in sex assault case

An Italian judge’s ruling that sexual harassment doesn’t occur until 10 seconds have passed has caused outrage and prompted a trend on social media of Italians groping themselves to show just how long that is. 

“How is it possible? How do you time 10 seconds? Who decides?” “White Lotus” actor Paolo Camili said in a comment to Fox News Digital. “Some think that it’s a very short time, that it’s nothing, that it happens by chance… If they stand there and count for themselves, they will realize that 10 seconds are really a long time.”

A judge ruled that 66-year-old Antonio Avola did not sexually harass a 17-year-old student at a Rome high school because the April 2022 incident happened too quickly, the BBC reported. 

The student said she was walking up a staircase when a janitor pulled her trousers down and touched her buttocks and grabbed her underwear. A prosecutor asked for a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence for the crime. 

Inside a courtroom with gavel in view.  (iStock)

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The janitor admitted to groping the student without consent but insisted it was a joke, and the judge acquitted the man and claimed the incident “did not constitute a crime,” shocking many of the country’s youth and drawing outrage. 

Italian social media

Many Italians expressed their anger on social media at the judge’s decision. (Paolo Camilli/TikTok)

The victim herself asked if the judge was “joking” with his decision, insisting the janitor “took” her from behind without saying anything. “This, at least for me, is not a joke,” she said, stressing that the ruling may in fact discourage women from reporting violence because they might worry it’s “not worth it.” 

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“Silence, in general, protects aggressors,” she said, hoping that the prosecutor’s office will appeal the ruling, according to Day Italia News. “I’m starting to think I was wrong to trust the institutions. This is not justice.” 

Camili took to social media to express his anger over the “palpaga breve” — or “brief groping” — ruling, putting a timer over a video of himself feeling his own chest for 10 seconds before exploding in an angry rant.  

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He posted the video with the comment, “Lo Stato non dovrebbe proteggere?,” or “Shouldn’t the State protect?” 

Trevi Fountain, Rome

A view of the Trevi Fountain square in Rome with tourists, in Rome, Italy, on June 3, 2022 in Rome, (Photo by Andrea Ronchini/NurPhoto via Getty Images) (Photo by Andrea Ronchini/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

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Other influencers followed, similarly posting videos of themselves either with a timer or counting to 10 on their fingers to show just how long a time that is. The posters remain silent and stare at the camera for the whole time, and mostly grope their own chests. 

Activist Francesco Cicconetti posted his own video, writing, “Women’s bodies are not owned by men. It is owned by no one, only the women themselves.” 

Fox News’ Peter Petroff contributed to this report.

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