Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2008


This essay examines an Italian sexual assault case that received significant media attention. The Corte d'appello of Cagliari concluded that the defendant was not entitled to a reduced sentence when he was convicted of sexually assaulting his fourteen-year-old stepdaughter. On review, the Third Section of Italy's Corte diCassazione held that the lower court's refusal was erroneous. Cassazione faulted the appellate court for failing to consider that the victim had already engaged in sexual activity with others. This case illustrates how changing rape laws on the books does not always bring about immediate change in attitudes. Indeed, notions of chastity and rape myths continue to influence interpretation of Italian rape law reforms.