Four members of “La Manada,” a group of Spanish friends who were convicted in a 2016 gang rape case that made global headlines, have been found guilty of sexual abuse against another woman.
In December 2018, an appeals court upheld a nine-year prison conviction against five men, who had been found guilty of sexually abusing an 18-year-old woman at the 2016 Running of the Bulls festival in Pamplona. The case became known as La Manada (the Wolf Pack) after the WhatsApp group that the men used to chat and boast about their sexual exploits. The original court decision triggered nationwide protests after judges found the men guilty of the lesser charge of abuse but not of rape.
On Thursday four members of the gang were sentenced to additional prison time for sexually abusing a young woman who was lying unconscious inside a vehicle as the group drove from Torrecampo to Pozoblanco, in the Andalusian province of Córdoba, in the early hours of May 1, 2016.
The defendants were also found guilty of violating the victim’s privacy after they recorded the abuse and shared it on two WhatsApp chat groups. Three of the men – Alfonso Jesús Cabezuelo, Jesús Escudero and Antonio Manuel Guerrero – have been given an extra year and four months in prison, while José Ángel Prenda, who told the court he was solely responsible for recording the abuse and sharing it, got three years.
Cabezuelo, a member of the military, has also been ordered to pay the victim €12 a day for two months for causing her minor injuries after she refused to perform oral sex on him and he struck her. The woman will also receive €13,150 in damages.
In his ruling, Judge Luis Santos took into account “the personal circumstances of the accused, who following these events carried out an even more serious unlawful act in Pamplona, whose public notoriety was very significant.” For this reason, the defendants have been handed more than the minimum prison term of one year.
But women’s groups found the conviction too light. “It means carte blanche for gang abuse and aggression,” said Patricia Catalina, of the Clara Campoamor Association, which was a party to the criminal proceedings as the private prosecution.
The members of La Manada are already serving 15-year prison terms for the gang rape in Pamplona
Agustín Martínez, the defendants’ lawyer, said they will appeal unless his clients oppose it. The members of La Manada are already serving 15-year prison terms for the gang rape in Pamplona, which took place two months after the Córdoba abuse.
The decision on Thursday was based on two recordings lasting 30 seconds and 45 seconds, in which Cabezuelo, Escudero, Guerrero and Prenda are seen touching the woman’s breasts. In the footage, Cabezuelo also kisses her on the mouth. Prenda recorded the moment with his cellphone from the front passenger seat.
The videos were obtained two months later, when they turned up during the police investigation into the Pamplona rape case. The defense tried to get the judge to reject the footage as evidence in the new case, arguing that it had been obtained without specific authorization to do so and in violation of his clients’ privacy. But the judge rejected these claims.
The ruling states that the events took place in the early hours of May 1, 2016, when the victim got into a car with the four men after meeting them at the local fiestas in Torrecampo. After getting in the car, “at an unspecified time and without known reason [...] she fell into a state of unconsciousness.” As the driver made his way to Pozoblanco, where he and the victim both lived, the men began to feel her breasts and to kiss her. After arriving in town, the young woman woke up and agreed to let Cabezuelo take her home. But when she refused to perform the aforementioned sex act, he hit her and insulted her.
Two months later, she received a call from a police officer investigating the Pamplona case, and was informed about the videos and their contents. At that point, the woman filed a complaint against the members of La Manada.
English version by Susana Urra.