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LATIN AMERICA | 10-06-2024 16:25

Juan Darthés sentenced in Brazil to six years in prison for 2009 rape of Thelma Fardin

Actor Juan Darthés sentenced to six years in prison by court in Brazil for 2009 rape of his former colleague Thelma Fardin.

Argentine-Brazilian actor Juan Darthés has been sentenced to six years in prison by a Brazilian court for the 2009 rape of his former colleague Thelma Fardin.

In a virtual heading, Brazilian judges announced they had overturned the 2023 first instance acquittal of Darthés, real name Juan Pacífico Dabul. They instead handed him a six-year jail term for the rape of Fardin, an Argentine actress who was a minor when the crime took place.

When the events allegedly occurred, the actress was 16 years old and the actor was aged 45.

According to the terms of the sentence, Darthés’ sentence will be served under the ‘open regime’ scheme. He will be able to work but must return to sleep in jail every night, sources close to the actress confirmed to local news outlets.

Fardin’s allegations had an explosive cultural impact in Argentina and across Latin America, prompting a wave of other women to come forward with accusations of sexual abuse. 

The massive spread of the ‘#MiraComoNosPonemos’ (the phrase can be translated as “Look at what you do to us” and was allegedly said by Darthés) hashtag denouncing criminality drew strong comparisons with the ‘#MeToo’ movement in the United States. 

Speaking at a press conference on Monday evening, Fardin said the sentence is “a message of hope.”

"This is a scenario for which I was not prepared, because I had already lost faith in justice. This sentence has to be a message of hope for anyone who is suffering any kind of abuse," she said.

“They should think that there is a possibility of redress in the justice system, even if the person to be denounced is very powerful.”

In the few times Darthés has spoken publicly about the case, he has rejected the allegations against him.

 

Long legal process

The sentence, which Dartés looks set to appeal, is the result of a legal process. 

The former TV heartthrob was denounced in December 2018 by Fardin, who accused her fellow actor of raping and sexually assaulting her in a hotel room in Managua, Nicaragua in 2009. 

The incident took place while both were employed for a touring production of the children’s TV programme, Patito Feo (“Ugly Duckling”). Fardin was just 16 years old at the time.

In mid-2019, Nicaragua requested the opening of criminal proceedings against the actor as a direct perpetrator of the crime of aggravated rape. Prosecutors accused him of "taking advantage of work-related trust and the age difference."

Dartés left Argentina that same year to avoid being arrested under a warrant distributed by Interpol. He sought refuge in Brazil, his country of birth. 

The Brazilian Constitution does not allow the extradition of nationals but its penal code allows them to be prosecuted domestically for crimes committed abroad.

The case was subsequently taken up by the Federal Public Prosecutor's Office of São Paulo. It was the final stretch of the trial, with two hearings remaining before the verdict.

Monday’s ruling was upheld by two judges to one. That was the latest of a series in legal twists. The previous year, Darthés had been acquitted of rape after a judge ruled that penetration had not been proven. 

Fardin, however, refused to give up. She pushed ahead with her complaint and appealed to the Brazilian justice system. 

The judicial process, which involved three countries – Argentina, Brazil and Nicaragua – had 11 witnesses, who all testified virtually.

Since the beginning of the process, Darthés has been free, but the Brazilian justice system has withheld his passport and he has been unable to leave the country.

Amnesty International Argentina, which has supported Fardin’s legal fight, welcomed the judges’ decision.

"Amnesty International recognises that this decision is a firm step towards building a justice system that condemns sexual violence against children and gender-based violence, and in doing so sends a message to girls and women in Argentina and Latin America that they can have confidence in the justice system and be encouraged to speak out," the NGO said.

Reflecting on her journey over the last few years, Fardin on Monday called for the construction of a “society based on empathy,” that is willing to hear victims speak out.

“It is a day with a lot of emotions," she confessed.

 

– TIMES/NA/AFP
 

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