After Groping Ruling, Italians Share Unsettling Videos

Judges acquitted man because groping of teen only lasted around 10 seconds
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 12, 2023 6:50 PM CDT
'10-Second Groping' Ruling Causes Outrage in Italy
"Who decides that 10 seconds is not a long time? Who times the seconds, while you're being harassed?" said influencer Francesco Cicconetti.   (Getty Images/Devenorr)

"Palpata breve," meaning "a brief groping," and the #10secondi hashtag are trending on social media in Italy after the acquittal of a school janitor accused of groping a 17-year-old girl. The teen, a student at a Rome high school, said the man put his hand inside her underwear from behind and groped her as she was walking up a staircase between classes. Judges cleared 66-year-old Antonio Avola of sexual assault, saying the groping "only lasted about ten seconds" and his hand had not "lingered for long," the BBC reports.

The girl, whose account was supported by witnesses, said that when she confronted Avola, he said he had been joking. Judges said his excuse "appears convincing." "For me it was no joke. A joke is something shared between two people," the girl said after the acquittal, per the Telegraph. "This is not the way that a janitor should joke around with a young girl of 17. I'm very angry. This is not justice. I feel betrayed twice over—first by the school, where it happened, and now by the court."

To protest the ruling, and the wider problem of sexual harassment in Italy, thousands of people—including White Lotus actor Paolo Camilli—have posted videos in which they stare at the camera and silently touch themselves for 10 seconds. The videos shared on Instagram and TikTok "are often uncomfortable to watch but they have the aim of showing just how long 10 seconds can feel," per the BBC. (More Italy stories.)

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