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Spain 'Big Brother' star jailed for sexual assault on camera

By Agence France-Presse Published Apr 18, 2023 10:05 am

Trigger warning: This article contains mentions of sexual assault.

A contestant on Spain's Big Brother has been jailed for just over a year for sexually assaulting another contestant as the reality TV show was being filmed in 2017, court documents showed Monday, April 17.

The incident took place following an alcohol-fuelled party when the victim, Carlota Prado, was in a clear state of inebriation. 

Although the footage was never aired, the producers came under fire for their handling of the incident in which they confronted her with the video evidence the next morning in the so-called Big Brother confession room, causing her to break down. 

Jose Maria Lopez went on trial in November with the court sentencing him to "15 months of prison for a sexual abuse offense against Carlota P. A. that took place... in the early hours of November 4, 2017."

It also imposed a "four-year restraining order on him during which he must have no contact with the victim, and pay her 6,000 euros (P367,000) in compensation," part of which must be paid by the Spanish production company that made the show. 

Big Brother is a popular reality show featuring contestants locked in a purpose-built house for weeks on end with their every move tracked on camera 24 hours a day. Viewers then vote off the contestants one by one.

The judge said Lopez—who was "driven by a lustful impulse, knowing Carlota P.A. was in a drunken stupor that would later lead to unconsciousness"—had "removed her trousers while they were in bed and begun making sexual movements under the duvet," despite the victim saying "I can't."

"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," he wrote. 

Lopez was immediately kicked off the show.

The story only became public two years later when El Confidencial news website released footage of the moment the producers confronted her in the confession room in which she can be seen breaking down and pleading with them to turn it off.

The trial had been due to start in February 2022 but it was delayed because Prado was struggling with her mental health and didn't feel able to testify. (AFP)