A former contestant on Big Brother Spain has been sentenced to 15 months in prison for sexually assaulting a fellow contestant.
José María López assaulted a female participant on the reality TV show in 2017 after an alcohol-fuelled party.
The footage was never aired, and López was kicked off the show after the attack. The judge said Lopez was “driven by a lustful impulse” and knew the victim was “in a drunken stupor”.
The victim reported the incident to police in 2018. The trial was due to start in February 2022, but was delayed because she did not feel able to testify.
López and the woman had been in a relationship inside the Big Brother house before the attack.
The judge said López took the victim’s trousers off while the pair shared a bed, before making “sexual movements” under the duvet.
The victim said “I can’t” before “the defendant’s lewd movements continued for several minutes, until the victim’s face and arm were uncovered, revealing her unconscious state, prompting [the producers] to intervene,” the judge wrote. López said he did not realise his victim was unconscious.
The judge said he treated the victim as a “sex toy”, “without there being the slightest shadow of consent and, consequently, of freedom on her part in what happened,” El País reported.
The next morning, the producers showed the victim the video of the assault in the confessions room.
Despite López receiving a 15-month sentence, it is unclear whether he will spend any time in jail.
Under Spanish law, people who receive a sentence of less than two years and have no prior criminal record do not always have to serve time in prison.
The judge also imposed a four-year restraining order on López, during which time he is not allowed to contact the victim. He was ordered to pay her €6,000 in compensation.
The Spanish production company that made the show, Zeppelin Televisión SA must also pay compensation for “moral damage” caused by not providing enough support to the victim.
The assault only became public two years after it happened when a Spanish news website, El Confidencial, released footage of the moment producers showed the victim the assault video.
Big Brother was first launched in the Netherlands in 1999. It is a popular reality TV show where contestants stay in a purpose-built home for many weeks without access to the outside world, and all their actions are filmed.
The show has been embroiled in several controversies, including in Australia in 2006 when two male contestants were removed for assaulting a woman on the show.