Monday, 1 April 2013

302 years in jail for 'sex predator' karate teacher

CANARY ISLANDS/Las Palmas It is Spain's biggest paedophilia case ever and the principal defendant ended up with a jail sentence of 302 years after being found guilty recently of 35 counts of sexual abuse and another 13 of corruption of minors. However, Fernando Torres Baena can only serve a total of 20 years, according to Spanish law. His wife, María José González, and a friend Yvonne González were sentenced to 148 and 126 years respectively, but a fourth defendant, Juan Luis Benítez, also a monitor at Torres Baena's martial arts academy, was acquitted. (WARNING: the rest of this story contains material that may not be suitable for minors.)>>>Some 40 witnesses came forward since the trial began in early May, 2012, accusing them all, but especially Torres Baena, of manipulating them into sexual activities of all kinds while they were minors. Some of them were as young as 13 at the time.

Several women pointed the finger at the karate instructor's wife as the person who was initially used to induce them into performing sexual acts that the prosecutor said 'they were not ready for'. The monitor, Yvonne González, later became the 'principal agent' who incited the minors further.

Among the witnesses were several males who had also fallen into the hands of these sexual predators. One of them told of how Torres Baena had said that if he was ever caught, he would 'go to Cuba' and do it 'all. over again'. Another, who was abused from age eight, said that this had coincided with a period in which his mother had been dying from a serious illness and he had been feeling very alone and vulnerable. The reaction to this witness caused considerable commotion throughout the country.

All the witnesses agreed that the initial excuse was that sex would 'make them better athletes' and that orgies were 'the usual' at the academy as well as the couple's home.

Three witnesses told the court that they were forced into three-way and even five-way sex activities while they were still under age. In his final report the lawyer representing the victims said that more than 20 of the victims had undergone anal penetration, and many said they had lost their virginity to Baena, sometimes at the age of eight or nine.

All three denied everything right from the start of the trial but their testimonies were consistently rebutted by the witnesses, who also accused Baena of physical as well as psychological threats. The defence lawyer, José Luis Calonge, told interviewers that he "was in complete disagreement with the judge" and the sentence, which was over 200 pages long, would be appealed.

For his part, the lawyer for the victims, José María Palomino, was 'delighted' with the sentence, adding that a  "deep injury in the Las Palmas community could now begin to heal."

The sentence also includes compensation to the victims of between €10,000 and €50,000. Some of them have never been able to keep a stable relationship with another person, and continue to be 'affected psychologically.'

The judge also asked for harder prison terms, proportionate to the very serious crimes committed, 'without precedent', particularly in view of the fact that maximum in real terms is 20 years, which "is manifestly insufficient."

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