Child abuse suspect acquitted after court says victim was older than her stated age
İsmail Saymaz ISTANBUL / Radikal
T.Ö. claimed that the victim told him that she would be 18 in a few months.A suspect accused of raping a 14-year-old girl in the Central Anatolian province of Tokat has been acquitted, after a local court stated that the victim was a year older than her declared age, despite her birth certificate and bone analysis proving the opposite.
The prosecutor of the case had demanded 22.5 years in jail for the suspect, identified as T.Ö., who claimed that he had a consensual sexual relationship with the victim, identified as D.K., and that she told him she would be 18 in a few months. But the victim said in her testimony that T.Ö. knew she was only 14-years-old.
T.Ö., 23 at the time, was detained in 2012 after being caught by the girl’s family while attempting to elope with the girl.
The family then filed a complaint about him, stating that their daughter was younger than 15. In the meantime, D.K. changed her initial testimony, saying the relationship was not consensual and happened after receiving threats. Her parents said a psychological trauma, during which she attempted to commit suicide, had triggered her decision to change her testimony.
Scandal broke in the trial when the suspect was acquitted on the grounds that the victim may be older than 15. The court first ruled to change the victim’s date of birth to Dec. 8, 1997 from Dec. 8, 1998. It then found T.Ö. not guilty of rape based on D.K.’s first testimony in which she said the relationship was consensual.
Lawyers representing the victim accused the court of “complicity in the crime” by unlawfully claiming that the victim was older based on a non-scientific medical report, which estimated that D.K.’s age “may be” between 16 and 18.
“The court has acted as an accomplice of the crime by showing the age of a 14-year-old-child older without having any competence regarding this and despite the birth certificate, her identification and bone analysis,” said lawyer Şerif Özgür Urfa, adding they did not accept the ruling and would appeal the verdict.
“It has become clear once again that sexual crimes cannot be prevented by mere legal changes,” he said.
A new bill on crimes foresees doubling the sentences for sexual offenders, particularly child abusers. However, the arrangement has been criticized by women’s associations, which stress that it contains legal loopholes that could lead to the potential reduction of sentences and the criminalization of teenagers between the ages of 15 and 18 engaging in consensual sexual intercourse.