The 65-year-old man was accused by a junior colleague of touching her sexually and by a second of spanking her, like “a little girl... as if he were giving me a light slap on the behind”, court documents stated.
Despite the man admitting to the behaviour, judges in the Sicilian court in Palermo ruled that he was not touching his staff for sexual pleasure, declaring the contact as ‘not lascivious’.
“Objectively, it was brought on by an immature and inappropriate sense of humour, mixed in with a veiled abuse of power and an albeit improper way of establishing hierarchical relationships in the office,” the judges said in their ruling.
The court’s decision has since been met with outrage; a well-known commentator declaring the decision as “worthy of lawmakers in Saudi Arabia”.
“The august assembly seems to suggest that the women who were felt up caused the real offence,” he wrote in a front-page opinion piece in La Stampa newspaper.
“[The ruling] ignores the sensitivity and dignity of the working women and at the same time unfathomably permits the sexual violence, which was perpetrated even if on a small scale,” the UIL labour union representatives said in a statement.
According to The Daily Mail, a whopping third of Italian women between the ages of 16 and 70 are said to have suffered some sort of physical or sexual violence.
An Italian man has been cleared of a sexual harassment allegation after a court ruled his actions were driven by an immature sense of humour; and not sexual desire.