CD: Malto v. People

September 1, 2010 at 10:15 am (2007, Case Digests) (, )

MICHAEL JOHN Z. MALTO v. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES
G.R. No. 164733, September 21, 2007
Corona, J.

Doctrine:
The “sweetheart theory” cannot be invoked for purposes of sexual intercourse and lascivious conduct in child abuse cases under RA 7610. Consent is immaterial because the mere act of having sexual intercourse or committing lascivious conduct with a child who is subjected to sexual abuse constitutes the offense. Moreover, a child is presumed by law to be incapable of giving rational consent to any lascivious act or sexual intercourse.

Facts:
Sometime during the month of November 1997 to 1998, Malto seduced his student, AAA, a minor, to indulge in sexual intercourse several times with him. Prior to the incident, petitioner and AAA had a “mutual understanding” and became sweethearts. Pressured and afraid of the petitioner’s threat to end their relationship, AAA succumbed and both had sexual intercourse.

Upon discovery of what AAA underwent, BBB, AAA’s mother lodged a complaint in the Office of the City Prosecutor of Pasay City which led to the filing of Criminal Case No. 00-0691. 

The petitioner did not make a plea when arraigned. Hence, the trial court entered for him a plea of “not guilty.” The trial court found the evidence for the prosecution sufficient to sustain petitioner’s conviction. The trail court rendered a decision finding petitioner guilty and sentenced him to reclusion temporal and to pay an indemnity of Php. 75,000 and damages of Php. 50,000.

Petitioner questioned the trial court’s decision in the CA. The CA modified the decision of the trial court. The appellate court affirmed his conviction and ruled that the trial court erred in awarding Php. 75,000 civil indemnity in favor of AAA as it was proper only in a conviction for rape committed under the circumstances under which the death penalty was authorized by law.

Issue:
Whether the CA erred in sustaining petitioner’s conviction on the grounds that there was no rape committed since their sexual intercourse was consensual by reason of their “sweetheart” relationship

Held:
No. The “sweetheart theory” cannot be invoked for purposes of sexual intercourse and lascivious conduct in child abuse cases under RA 7610. Consent is immaterial because the mere act of having sexual intercourse or committing lascivious conduct with a child who is subjected to sexual abuse constitutes the offense. Moreover, a child is presumed by law to be incapable of giving rational consent to any lascivious act or sexual intercourse.

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