If you have ever questioned why some women choose not to come forward when they have been sexually assaulted or harassed, here is an example that may help you understand it a little better. A judge in Quebec presiding over a sexual assault trial referred to the victim as being “overweight” and suggested that she may have been “flattered” by her attacker’s attention.
Carlo Figaro—a 49-year-old cabdriver—was found guilty in May of forcibly kissing and licking the face of a 17-year-old passenger, as well as touching her breasts and genitals over her clothes, according to Vice.
During Figaro’s trial, presiding Judge Jean-Paul Braun described the nonconsensual kiss as “an acceptable gesture” and said, “It can be said that she is a little overweight, but she has a pretty face, huh?”
Braun also suggested that the victim may have been “flattered” by the assault because she came from a sheltered background, and Figaro is good-looking, doesn’t look his age and “likes to wear cologne.”
Braun further argued that there are degrees of consent, saying that getting consent for a kiss is different from getting consent to touch someone on the behind. He questioned which actions would have required Figaro to get consent, according to the CBC.
Ultimately, Braun found Figaro guilty and said in his ruling that while the victim may not have made it clear that she did not want to be kissed, her body language and words made it clear that she did not want what came after that.
Figaro has not yet been sentenced and is currently appealing his conviction. He will appear in court again in November.
As for Braun, Quebec Justice Minister Stephanie Vallee told reporters Wednesday morning that Braun’s comments were “unacceptable” and said she planned to file a complaint with Quebec’s magistrates council.
Rape culture. It’s a real thing.
Here’s hoping the victim in this case does actually see some justice.