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In 'Party Town,' an Alleged Gang Rape. Now, Accuser Is Sentenced

Teen gets 4-month suspended sentence for lying about Cyprus rape; she says retraction was coerced
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 7, 2020 9:45 AM CST

(Newser) – A judge in Cyprus says he's giving a "second chance" to a young woman who came before his bench, handing down a four-month sentence that's been suspended for three years after she was convicted of lying about being gang-raped. Per the BBC and the Sun, the unidentified 19-year-old claimed in July she'd been sexually assaulted in a hotel room on July 17 by 12 Israeli men. After the alleged incident in Aiya Napa—which the Guardian notes has a "reputation as a party town," often advertised as a destination for a "lads' holiday"—the woman, then 18, sought medical attention and had injuries consistent with rape. Two weeks later, however, during an eight-hour interview with police, she took back her claim in a statement signed without a lawyer present, and without it being recorded. She was found guilty of public mischief last month, though she says the police pressured her into recanting.

Judge Michalis Papathanasiou, however, didn't buy it. "All the evidence shows that she had lied and prevented the police from doing other serious jobs," he said during the sentencing hearing Tuesday. He said he gave her a suspended sentence due to her age, psychological state—her lawyer says she has severe PTSD—and the fact she'd been in Cyprus for six months already. Still, women's rights advocates are railing against the sentence. "She is not to blame at all," one tells the BBC. "The judge here must learn what happens to the victim of sexual abuse." Other protesters agreed, gathering outside the Paralimni court to show support, chanting, "Stop blaming the victim!" per the Sun. The lawyer for the teen, who was also ordered to pay $165 in legal fees, tells the BBC they'll appeal her conviction. There's also still a chance she could be pardoned by Cyprus' president. (Read more false accusations stories.)

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