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Mexican judge is suspended after controversial ruling in sexual assault case

A Mexico City demonstration in October on sexual violence against women.
(MARIO GUZMAN / EPA)

A Mexican judge has been suspended after his controversial acquittal of a man accused in a high-profile sexual assault case.

Mexico’s Plenary Council of the Federal Judiciary said Wednesday that it had indefinitely suspended Judge Anuar Gonzalez Hemadi and would carry out an investigation into his handling of the case.

On Monday, Gonzalez issued a verdict in which he said the 22-year-old defendant, Diego Cruz Alonso, should be freed because although Cruz touched the victim without her consent, he did not enjoy himself and did so without “lascivious intent.”

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The ruling was widely criticized in Mexico, where many held it up as an example of the country’s failure to deliver justice in cases of sexual assault and of the impunity of Mexico’s powerful elite.

Cruz, like two other men accused in the case, comes from a privileged background.

The incident happened in early 2015 in the affluent city of Boca del Rio, in the coastal state of Veracruz.

The victim, a 17-year-old senior at an exclusive Catholic high school, had attended a party at a club with some classmates. As she prepared to depart, she said she was forced into a black Mercedes by Cruz, then 19, and three of his friends.

She said she was assaulted in the car by Cruz and Jorge Coahuila. She accused them of reaching under her shirt and shorts. She said she was later raped by Enrique Capitaine Marin at his home in an affluent neighborhood a few blocks from the Gulf of Mexico.

The case drew notoriety nationally after the girl’s father made public two videos that he recorded after the incident in which Cruz and the other men appear to confess to sexually assaulting his daughter. Later, Cruz and the others put out a statement saying they were innocent and had been coerced into the apology.

The judge’s ruling is now on hold as the case is reviewed.

kate.linthicum@latimes.com

Twitter: @katelinthicum

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