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Spain Prosecutors Open Preliminary Sex Abuse Probe Over Rubiales Kiss

Under Spanish law, sexual assault takes in a wide array of crimes from online abuse and groping to rape, each with different penalties.


Graphic content / Spain’s defender #20 Rocio Galvez (L) is congratulated by President of the Royal Spanish Football Federation Luis Rubiales (R) after winning the Australia and New Zealand 2023 Women’s World Cup final football match between Spain and England at Stadium Australia in Sydney on August 20, 2023. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

 

Spanish prosecutors said Monday they had opened a preliminary investigation into Luis Rubiales’ forcible kiss on the lips of World Cup player Jenni Hermoso on grounds it could constitute a crime of “sexual assault”.

“Prosecutors from the National Court have opened a preliminary investigation to look into the facts, which could constitute an offence of sexual assault,” a court statement said.

Under Spanish law, sexual assault takes in a wide array of crimes from online abuse and groping to rape, each with different penalties.

They would also contact Hermoso to offer her a chance to file a suit within 15 days, the statement said.

After Spain won the Women’s World Cup in Sydney on August 20, Rubiales sparked a massive backlash when he forcibly kissed Hermoso on the lips during the medal ceremony.

Hermoso later said the unwanted kiss had left her feeling “vulnerable and like the victim of an assault”, with a statement on social media describing it as “an impulsive, macho act, out of place and with no type of consent on my part”.

The court said it was opening the investigation in light of the “unequivocal nature” of her statements, saying it was necessary “to determine their legal significance”.

“Given the public statements made by Jennifer Hermoso, the sexual act she was subjected to by (Luis) Rubiales was not consensual,” the court statement said.

READ ALSO: Rubiales Could Face Further Suspension After Kiss As Sports Court Meet

Legal experts would also contact the player “to offer her the option of legal action, giving her the chance to contact National Court prosecutors within 15 days for information about her rights as a victim of an alleged sexual assault… should she wish to file a complaint”, it said.

“In order to proceed with a case for sexual assault, harassment or sexual abuse, it will be necessary for the injured party or their legal representative to file suit, or the public prosecutors’ office,” the statement said.

If Hermoso decides not to file suit, it will make it “difficult” for prosecutors to press ahead with the case, legal sources told AFP.

So far, the court said it had received several complaints about Rubiales’ kiss, which without consent constitutes an offence of sexual assault under Spain’s recently-updated criminal code.

None were filed by Hermoso.

FIFA suspended Rubiales as president of Spain’s RFEF football federation at the weekend, and he could face further sanctions in Spain with the country’s sports administrative court, the TAD, meeting on Monday to examine the complaints against him.

AFP