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Teen victim of rape awarded quarter million in moral damages

A middle school student was raped by three pupils of the same school. Today, a court of appeal finally decided the case awarding the woman PLN 250,000 in moral damages (plus interest) from the perpetrators.

Criminal case and application to ECtHR

In 2008, a middle school student was raped by three pupils of the same school. The perpetrators were too young to be tried for a criminal offence. A guardianship court sentenced them to a young offender institution but suspended their convictions for a probation period. In 2012, the victim and her mother submitted an application to the European Court of Human Rights. The proceedings in this case ended with Poland’s unilateral declaration admitting violations of ECHR provisions on the prohibition of degrading treatment, protection of private life and right to a court.

Civil action for damages

In 2015, the woman brought a court action against the perpetrators of rape, seeking an award of PLN 350,000 in compensation for her moral injuries. In 2017, a regional court ruled that the perpetrators should pay her PLN 250,000 together with interest. While pronouncing the judgment, the court emphasised that is had taken into consideration the drastic circumstances of the case and the fact that the perpetrators have never expressed remorse or apologised to the victim. On the contrary, during the trial, the perpetrators attempted to undermine the victim’s credibility and suggested that she freely consented to a sexual intercourse rather than having been raped.

Appeal

The defendants have filed an appeal against the judgment, but the court of appeal dismissed their submissions in July 2018 and upheld the regional court’s decision in its entirety. The court of appeal decided that the first instance court had properly resolved the case and found no grounds for a decrease of the damages awarded. The court also ruled that the matter had not become time-barred as the limitation period in such a type of proceedings was 20 years.

The case was handled by the HFHR’s Strategic Litigation Programme, and the claimant was represented pro bono by Mr Adam Kempa, Ms Małgorzata Surdek, Mr Adam Jodkowski and Mr Marcin Zbytniewski, attorneys of CMS Cameron McKenna.


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