Sex-assault videos stir anger in violent Mexican state


MEXICO CITY (AP) — A private university in the violence-plagued Mexican state of Veracruz has suspended a student who allegedly helped tape sex scenes that the victim claims were a rape, an incident that had fed complaints the government is ignoring sexual abuses by the offspring of the rich and powerful.

The Veracruz branch of the Mexico Valley University said the suspended student allegedly made or distributed a video showing a grinning man apparently having sex with a barely conscious woman, calling it “completely unacceptable behavior.” The woman filed a criminal complaint in late March, saying she had been unconscious and could not remember the events.

But the victim’s mother told local media that at least one of the perpetrators is the son of a state politician, something the state government denied, though it said prosecutors were investigating the rape complaint.

The case follows another that has caused outrage throughout Mexico — officials’ failure to act on accusations that the sons of well-to-do-businessman or political figures raped a 17-year-old woman in January 2015. It has gained unusual force because the woman and her family have made their complaints public rather than keeping silent, as many rape victims do.

The victim’s father demanded the youths apologize — which two did on videotape, saying they had committed a “very bad error” and apologizing “for the damage we have caused to you.”

The father then filed a criminal complaint in May 2015, but almost a year later, prosecutors haven’t even called any of the youths in for questioning. Prosecutors argued they couldn’t use the taped apologies as evidence: It is not clear what they’re apologizing for, and Mexican courts — long plagued by confessions extracted under torture — are no longer allowed to admit confessions unless there is supporting evidence.

“Evidence doesn’t constitute proof, even though it has been publicly shown,” state prosecutor Luis Angel Bravo said of the videotape.

That doesn’t convince many Mexicans, who have shared the tape on social media with outraged comments. The hackers’ group Anonymous even threatened that to take revenge on the alleged perpetrators and their families if prosecutors don’t act.

On Wednesday, Veracruz Gov. Javier Duarte finally met with the alleged rape victims’ grandmother, holding her hand and “promising her that justice will be done.”

It was a sign of how deep the criticism has weighed on the administration of Duarte, which had previously been characterized by a startling degree of indifference.

While at least 15 journalists have been killed in Veracruz since Duarte took office in 2010, he has often in the past reacted by criticizing journalists for collaborating with the state’s powerful drug cartels.

Despite a national scandal over five youths who were kidnapped by municipal police in Tierra Blanca, Veracruz, then turned over to a drug gang and killed, the state has done little to purge corrupt police. Seven local police officers in another Veracruz town were arrested this week in connection with the disappearances of three people.