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SC acquits man of rape, citing no proof of woman’s resistance, use of force

/ 07:01 PM May 05, 2017

In a rape case in which the complainant claims drunkenness, she must present proof that she resisted even before the sexual act could be consummated and that her drunkeness has deprived her of the will power to give her consent.

In this particular case, however, the complainant kept silent while the sexual act was being committed. And though claiming to be drunk, she managed to go home after the incident.

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These, among other factors, led the Supreme Court to acquit the accused.

Based on its 10-page decision, high court’s First Division acquitted the accused because the prosecution failed to present evidence showing that he forced the victim to have sex with him.

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The incident happened in 2008. The victim. who was then 24 years old, and her two male friends, aged 14 and 18, had a drinking session at the house of the accused. The accused are cousins living at the same address.

During the trial, the prosecution noted that, after almost 2 hours of being asleep, the victim woke up with the 14-year-old having sex with her. She said she felt pain. But she cried in silence for fear that a knife she saw on a table would be used to stab her.

After his younger cousin, the 18-year-old accused then asked if he could also do the same to her. The victim said she remained silent because she was shivering in fear. So the accused raped her too.

After the incident, the victim said she went home.

The Regional Trial Court convicted the 18-year-old accused and meted the penalty of up to 40 years imprisonment.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s decision, prompting the accused to take the case to the Supreme Court.

The high court, through Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo, acquitted the accused.

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The high court said there was no evidence that the accused used force and intimidation to be able to have sex with the victim. It noted that the victim herself admitted that she and the two accused were her friends and that she frequented their house.

“The prosecution must prove that force or intimidation was actually employed by accused upon his victim to achieve his end. Failure to do so is fatal to its cause,” the high court said.

Here, the high court pointed out that the victim failed to specify how she was threatened by the accused. It noted that her fear that the knife on the table could be used to kill her if she resisted “was a mere product of her own imagination.”

“We cannot even ascertain whether said knife can be used as a weapon or an effective tool to intimidate a person because it was neither presented nor described in court,” the high court said.

The high court also noted the fact that the 14-year-old, while on top of her, did not say anything and that she herself remained silent.

She only moved when she felt pain. The older accused even asked if he could do the same to her. She still kept silent. The accused desisted immediately after she moved during the rape.

“[The victim] could have resisted right from the start,” the high court said. “But she did not, and chose not to utter a word or make any sign of rejection of appellant’s sexual advances. It was only in the middle of their sexual congress when [the victim] tried to move which can hardly be considered as an unequivocal manifestation of her refusal or rejection of the sexual advances.”

Citing the case of People v. Amogis, the high court said: “Resistance must be manifested and tenacious. A mere attempt to resist is not the resistance required and expected of a woman defending her virtue, honor and chastity.”

The high court added that to invoke the defense of drunkeness the victim should have been deprived of her will power to give consent.

In this case, however, the high court noted that the victim voluntarily went to the house of the accused and had a drinking session for about four hours.

On the claim that she got dizzy and was shivering, the SC said the prosecution “failed to show that she was completely deprived of her will power.”

“If it is true that the gravity of her ‘shivering’ at that time rendered her immobile such that she could not move her head to signal her rejection of appellant’s indecent proposal or to whisper to him her refusal, then she would have been likewise unable to stand up and walk home immediately after the alleged rape,” the high court said.

It added that, judging by the age gap, one of the accused being 14 and cannot be prosecuted because of his minority, and the other, being 18 years olds, already “negates force, threat or intimidation.”

The decision was concurred in by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Estela Perlas-Bernabe, and Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa. /atm

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