Colombian High Court Criminalizes Grabbing a Woman's Behind

Grab a woman's behind, go to jail.

That's the precedent established on Monday by the Colombian Supreme Court, which ruled that a messenger who was convicted of fondling a woman without her consent last year had caused her "violent injury."

The court was reviewing the case of Victor Garcia, a messenger who was sentenced to four years for sexual assault. Prosecutors said that in the June 2005 incident, Garcia was riding his bicycle when he stopped to grab the backside of a woman walking along a path.

"It was an attack on the honor of the victim," said Judge Alvaro Orlando Perez, who wrote Monday's decision. "It was very serious behavior that cannot be tolerated."

But the court also ruled that Garcia had committed simple assault, rather than sexual assault, and ordered him freed to stand trial on the lesser charge — which carries a maximum of three years in prison.

Garcia's case has been the topic of much discussion across the country, with women's rights groups applauding the initial sentence and hoping it signaled a crackdown on domestic and sexual abuse.

But others called it excessive in light of a recent amnesty deal for leaders of Colombia's far-right paramilitaries, under which many people responsible for the grisly killings of thousands will serve no more than eight years in prison.