This case is an appeal from a judgment by a lower court. Judge Delmy Elizabeth Mejia Salazar found Alvin, a 27-year-old farmer originating from Concepcion de Ataco, guilty of attempted rape of a minor (11 years old) in violation of articles 159 and 172 of the El Salvadoran criminal code, and sentenced Alvin to seven years imprisonment. In the underlying case, the victim testified that Alvin forced her into a crawling position, raped, and sodomized her. On appeal, Alvin argued that the sentencing judge did not properly apply article 179 of the criminal code of procedure as the evidence presented by the forensic expert did not show any injuries in support of a finding of rape and/or sodomization. On appeal, the court emphasized that the medical examination was conducted a month and a half after the attempted rape and sodomization, which provided sufficient time for any injuries to heal. The court further stated that article 159 of the penal code does not require the use of violence and indicated that not every attempted violation will leave physical evidence (e.g., if the victim has a passive reaction to the aggression which does not result in the use of force). Additionally, Alvin did not deny attempting to sexually assault the victim by putting her in a crawling position. Thus, the appellate court upheld the trial court’s ruling and sentence, which was shorter than the eight years imprisonment recommended by the relevant statute.
Domestic Case Law
In April, 2013, the National Civil Police, a unit of the Computer Crime Investigation Group of the Central Investigation Division launched a search for pornography. Chief inspector Jesus Perez Sanches instructed two investigative agents to perform a search when they observed five individuals, including Alejandro G.D., selling pornography on the street in a residential neighborhood. Alejandro was showing to the public the pornographic images from the movie cases, including children accompanied by parents, students, and elderly individuals. During the investigation, the agents found numerous DVDs including pornographic images on the movie cases. Eleven of the 362 seized films referenced “child pornography” on the face of the movie cases and on the DVDs within the cases. The investigators arrested the individuals, including Alejandro G.D. and seized all the pornographic paraphernalia. Section 173 of the El Salvadoran Penal Code provides that when a person produces, reproduces, distributes, publishes, imports, exports, offers, finances, sells, trades, or disseminates, in any form, images or uses the voice of a person under the age of eighteen, or a person that is incapacitated or mentally disabled, including computerized, audiovisual, virtual or other mediums of exhibiting sexual, erotic, real or simulated acts of a sexual nature, he or she shall be punished with 6-12 years of imprisonment. Pursuant to Article 417, the court has the authority to reduce the minimum sentence. Accordingly, Alejandro was sentenced to three years of imprisonment for possession of and selling child pornography.
F.A.P.A., the defendant, was a 54-year-old unmarried Salvadoran farmer residing in La Reina, El Salvador. At the time of the allegations giving rise to the case, he was receiving treatment for epilepsy. An evening, F.A.P.A. visited his niece. F.A.P.A. and his niece, a minor, were sitting on a couch watching television when his niece’s mother left the room to attend to her other children. During that time, F.A.P.A. engaged in sexual behavior with his niece against her will by touching her genitals and kissing her in the mouth. F.A.P.A. was subsequently arrested by Salvadoran police officers for sexually harassing his niece. F.A.P.A. later confessed to these underlying facts. Section 165 of the El Salvadoran Penal Code states a person is liable for sexual harassment when that person (1) engages in sexual behavior involving phrases, touching , signs, or other unequivocal conduct of a sexual nature or content, (2) the action is undesired by the person who receives it, (3) the action does not constitute a more serious sexual offence, (4) in the case of a person of legal age, the action is repeated, and (5) the action is intentional. The court found that F.A.P.A.’s confession of intentionally touching his niece’s genitals and kissing her against her will satisfies the elements of sexual harassment. Although F.A.P.A. was being treated for epilepsy, the court found that he was capable of distinguishing right from wrong and acted consciously. The court found F.A.P.A. guilty of sexual harassment punishable by two years imprisonment. However, in lieu of the prison sentence, the court exercised its discretion under articles 77 and 79 of the Penal Code and sentenced F.A.P.A. to two years of probation with the following restrictions: (1) prohibition from leaving the country; (2) prohibition from approaching the victim or her family; (3) prohibition from ingesting intoxicating drinks; and (4) will be under probationary surveillance.
In May 2015, a girl purchased bread from Defendant Luis Alonso, a 50-year-old baker, at his home. While the girl was at Luis’ home, Luis physically attacked her and stated that he would “rape her.” Although Luis did not carry out his threat, he threatened the girl that if she reported him, she would pay and that he would continue to harass her and physically assault her every time he saw her on the street. In February, 2016, the girl was approached by Luis in a small town in Ciudad Delgado and was afraid that Luis would sexually assault her again so she reported the previous events to patrolling officers. The patrolling officers arrested Luis for sexual harassment. Section 165 of the El Salvadoran Penal Code provides that a person is liable for sexual harassment—punishable by three to five years imprisonment—when that person engages in unwanted sexual conduct involving phrases, touching, signs or other unequivocal sexual conduct that does not in itself constitute a more serious offense. The court found that the defendant Luis Alonso sexually harassed the girl in violation of article 165. The court replaced the three-year prison sentence with 144 days of community service and ordered that Luis pays the victim a civil penalty of $300.
Defendant Juan Carlos, a member of a gang known as the Mara Salvatrucha (MS), was arrested for sexually harassing and detaining a 16-year-old girl. The victim was waiting for a bus an early afternoon when the defendant snatched her bag, attempted to kiss her, grabbed her by the neck, and forced her into a restaurant. When the victim attempted to run away, the defendant pursued her and forcibly took her into a house where the defendant detained her in a room. An anonymous individual in the neighborhood informed the police that the defendant was holding a girl captive. Police officers entered the house and arrested the defendant. Section 165 of the El Salvadoran Penal Code provides that a person is liable for sexual harassment when that person engages in unwanted sexual conduct involving phrases, touching, signs or other unequivocal sexual conduct that does not in itself constitute a more serious offense. Sexual harassment is punishable by three to five years of imprisonment. Section 165 further provides that sexual harassment against a child under the age of 15 is punishable by eight years imprisonment. Additionally, Section 148 of the El Salvadoran Penal Code provides that a person is liable for deprivation of freedom when that person deprives another of his or her individual liberty. The crime of deprivation of freedom is punishable by three to six years imprisonment. The court found that the defendant sexually harassed the victim in violation of article 165 and deprived the victim of her freedom in violation of article 148. Because the defendant performed multiple crimes, he was sentenced to 10 years 8 months of imprisonment. Three years of this sentence are attributable to sexual harassment, five years attributable to deprivation of freedom, increased by 1/3 for depriving a minor under the age of 18 of her liberty.