Supreme Court overturns child rape ruling

The Swedish Supreme Court has aquitted a childminder of child rape, reducing his conviction to one of child sex assault. The court is taking a less serious view of sex crimes than the government, a senior legal expert says.

The 21-year old Stockholmer had put his hand inside a four-year old boy’s clothing and molested his private parts. The court of appeal found that this consituted child rape, and sentenced him to two years imprisonment for child rape. The Supreme Court decided overturned that decision, and said the man should serve six months for child sex assault.

The court said in its ruling that the man’s attack on the child could not be called rape as it was not comparable to sexual intercourse. He had caused the boy temporary pain, but no detectable physical injury. He had not shown “particular ruthlessness or brutality,” the court ruled, and should therefore only be convicted of child sex assault. The court dismissed the Prosecutor-General’s demand that the assault be classed as a felony.

The decision was condemned by Madeleine Leijonhufvud, professor of criminal law at Stockholm University.

“The Supreme Court seems to be establishing a pattern in which in takes sexual crimes against children less seriously than parliament or the government,” she said to news agency TT.

“The court says that [the boy sustained] no physical injuries, but it has not brought in evidence about how distressing the events were for the boy. A child psychologist would have been able to describe the consequences of an assault such as this for a child’s development,” Leijonhufvud added.

This is the third time the Supreme Court has tried a case under news sexual offences laws enacted last spring. In the two previous cases, involving attacks on teenage girls, the court overturned rape verdicts, replacing them with verdicts of sexual abuse.

“We’re starting to see a pattern,” said Leijonhufvud. “Taken together, these three cases show that the Supreme Court cannot bring itself to follow the directions given when the law was changed.”

TT/The Local