Criminal Law,  Legally Yours

Cruz v. People

Criminal Law. Distinctions between attempted rape and acts of lasciviousness. 
Norberto Cruz y Bartolome v. People of the Philippines
G.R. No. 166441, October 8, 2014
Bersamin, J.:

FACTS:
The petitioner Norberto Cruz was charged with attempted rape and acts of lasciviousness involving different victims. The Regional Trial Court and the Court of Appeals found Cruz guilty of both crimes charged, hence, this appeal.

Norberto and his wife employed AAA and BBB to help them in selling their plastic wares and glass wares in La Union. Upon reaching the place, they set up their tents to have a place to sleep. Petitioner’s wife and their driver went back to Manila to get more goods. While sleeping, AAA felt that somebody was on top of her mashing her breast and touching her private part. Norberto ordered her not to scream or she will be killed. AAA fought back and Norberto was not able to pursue his lustful desires. AA left the tent to seek for help. When she returned to their tent, she saw Norberto touching the private parts of BBB. This prompted Norberto to leave the tent.

Norberto denies the commission of the crime alleging that he could not possibly do the acts imputed out in the open as there were many people preparing for the “simbang gabi”. He further assails the credibility AAA for the crime of rape, alleging that the complaints were filed only for the purpose of extorting money from him.

ISSUE:
Is petitioner guilty of attempted rape against AAA?

HELD:
NO, Cruz is guilty only of acts of lasciviousness. The basic element of rape is carnal knowledge of a female. Carnal knowledge is defined simply as “the act of a man having sexual bodily connections with a woman,” in other words, rape is consummated once the penis capable of consummating the sexual act touches the external genitalia of the female. There must be sufficient and convincing proof that the penis indeed touched the labias or slid into the female organ, and not merely stroked the external surface thereof, for an accused to be convicted of consummated rape.

Rape in its frustrated stage is a physical impossibility. Nonetheless, rape admits of an attempted stage. In attempted rape, the concrete felony is rape, but the offender does not perform all the acts of execution of having carnal knowledge. If the slightest penetration of the female genitalia consummates rape, and rape in its attempted stage requires the commencement of the commission of the felony directly by overt acts without the offender performing all the acts of execution that should produce the felony, the only means by which the overt acts performed by the accused can be shown to have a causal relation to rape as the intended crime is to make a clear showing of his intent to lie with the female.

The petitioner climbed on top of the naked victim and was already touching her genitalia with his hands and mashing her breasts when she freed herself from his clutches and effectively ended his designs on her. Yet, inferring from such circumstances that rape, and no other, was his intended felony would be highly unwarranted. Such circumstances remained equivocal, or “susceptible of double interpretation,” such that it was not permissible to directly infer from them the intention to cause rape as the particular injury.

The intent to penetrate is manifest only through the showing of the penis capable of consummating the sexual act of touching the external genitalia of the female. Without such showing, only the felony of acts of lasciviousness is committed. Petitioner’s embracing and touching the victim’s vagina and breasts did not directly manifest his intent to lie with her. The lack of evidence showing his erectile penis being in the position to penetrate her when he was on top of her deterred any inference about his intent to lie with her. At most, his acts reflected lewdness and lust for her. The intent to commit rape should not easily be inferred against the petitioner, even from his own declaration of it, if any, unless he committed overt acts leading to rape.

Hence, Cruz is guilty only of acts of lasciviousness and not attempted rape.

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