The trial against Argentine actor Juan Darthés, who stands accused of raping and sexually assaulting actress Thelma Fardín when she was a minor in 2009, began in Brazil on Tuesday, with the plaintiff delivering testimony via videoconference from Buenos Aires.
Speaking to the press outside the Specialised Prosecutor's Unit on Violence against Women (UFEM) in the capital after testifying for more than four hours, Fardín said she was “exhausted, but proud to have come this far."
In December 2018, the 29-year-old told prosecutors in Nicaragua that Darthés, the stage name of Juan Pacífico Dabul, had raped her in a hotel room in May 2009 in Managua, when the cast was on tour for the popular TV series ‘Patito Feo.’
A year later, Nicaraguan prosecutors formally accused the actor – who also has Brazilian nationality and has been living in the country since the accusations were first made – of the crime, "taking advantage of work-related trust and the age difference."
When the events occurred, the actress was 16 years old and the actor was aged 45.
Darthés, 57, has been in Brazil since he was first accused of the crime in 2018. It is the fourth time he has been accused of sexually assaulting a female co-star.
The case, in which the Brazilian, Argentine and Nicaraguan justice systems are collaborating, caused a huge commotion when it first broke, prompting a wave of other allegations, with some comparing it to the ‘#MeToo’ movement that began in the United States.
A total of 11 witnesses will be called, with the accused not obliged to attend initial virtual proceedings. According to reports, he may give evidence to the court, though he was not expected to be called on Wednesday, given that proceedings had overrun.
In the few times he has spoken publicly about the case, Darthés has rejected the allegations against him.
Trial in Brazil
The Brazilian Constitution does not allow for the extradition of nationals, but the Penal Code does allow Brazilians to be prosecuted on its soil for crimes committed abroad.
In April 2021, the São Paulo prosecutor's office filed a complaint that was accepted by the justice system.
"I arrive at the trial exhausted, but also with the certainty that this is where I should be and where we want all cases like mine to go: to trial,” Fardín told the press on Tuesday.
“Of all the times I had to tell my story and relive what happened to me, this is the one which will have the greatest collective impact," she said.
"It was a very long day. I was all these hours testifying, answering all the questions," said Fardin at the door of the UFEM, adding that she would respect the judge’s request for “secrecy” and not comment on proceedings any further.
The Actrices Argentinas collective, which has supported Fardín and the legal effort, read a manifesto in support of the complaintant on Tuesday in front of the UFEM, where actresses Calu Rivero and Anita Co, who in turn denounced Darthés for sexual harassment and abuse, are also due to testify to the court.
"We are together again to embrace Thelma, to ask that her abuser be condemned and to reaffirm that despite all the obstacles, this is a path that for women and dissidents in Latin America has no turning back," reads the manifesto.
"I don't want what happened to me to happen to anyone's daughter," Fardín reportedly told the Brazilian judge, according to local outlets.
On Wednesday night, hearings were adjourned until next year, January 27 and 28. No reason was given, given that the case is under strict secrecy rules.
Local reports said that testimony by other witnesses had run long and that the judicial recess for the summer would also interrupt proceedings.