How long is 10 seconds? The viral response to the man acquitted in Italy for ‘briefly groping’ a minor

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Antonio Avola, 66, a janitor at the Roberto Rosellini Cine Tv institute, touched the buttocks of a 17-year-old student on April 12, 2022 while going up the stairs for “a handful of seconds”: A few days ago, he was acquitted of the charge of sexual assault’because the fact does not constitute a crime. This terminology means that the touching, which “lasted between 5 and 10 seconds” according to the student, occurred, but without the subjective element, that is to say (according to the judges’ understanding) without Avola’s intention to bother the young woman. He said that she was “just kidding.”

After the janitor was acquitted because “brief groping” is not a crime, many users on social networks have started recording and sharing videos in which they touch different parts of the body for 10 seconds and simulate sexual abuse.

The gesture, launched for the first time by the actor Paolo Camilli and also shared, among others, by Clare Ferragni, invites us to reflect on what can be defined as harassment. Is ten seconds little when they touch your body against your will?

“For the judges is it a joke? The guard grabbed me from behind without saying anything. Then she put her hands inside my pants and under my underwear, fondling my buttocks and then pulling up so much that my private parts ached. This, at least for me, is not a joke”. These are words impregnated with anger and bitterness with which Laura, a student who has just come of age, reacted yesterday to the sentence in which the judges acquitted Antonio Avola of the charge of sexual abuse.

According to the court, the groping lasted “a handful of seconds”, with the consequence that “the thesis of the defense of playful act seems convincing”. A thesis that the young woman -assisted as a civil party in the trial by the lawyer Andrea Buitoni- firmly criticizes: “If it’s a joke, the two people participate and here the janitor did it all by himself”, Laura emphasizes And he adds: “This is not how an old man jokes with a seventeen-year-old girl. At least in my opinion”.

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