(New York Times) A French jury handed down light sentences and acquittals in a closely watched gang-rape case late Wednesday, prompting outrage from women's advocacy groups and consternation from government ministers.
Fourteen men were accused of participating in repeated rapes of two teenage girls in the housing projects of Fontenay-sous-Bois, outside Paris, from 1999 to 2001. The victims, now 29, reported being surrounded and raped by as many as two dozen aggressors at once.
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Ten of the 14 defendants, all minors at the time the crimes were said to have occurred, were acquitted Wednesday. More worrisome to critics, however, were the relatively light sentences for the four men who were convicted of gang rapes: two were given a year in prison; the third, six months; and the fourth, a suspended sentence. Under French law, minors convicted of gang rape can receive terms as long as 10 years in prison.