11 Feb, 2022 @ 11:49
3 mins read

What happened to the rape case that brought down Spain’s Big Brother?

big brother
COUPLE: Jose and Carlota

THE rape allegations that brought down Spain’s Big Brother reality TV series are once again in the press.

February 8 was supposed to be the date when the five-year long case finally reached trial.

The private prosecution representing Carlota Prado were seeking seven years in prison and €200,000 in damages (€100,000 from broadcaster Zeppelin TV and €100,000 from the accused, Jose Maria Lopez).

But Prado, now 29, never turned up.

Her lawyer explained to Madrid’s penal court no. 18 that the victim was suffering ‘serious psychiatric problems’ and revealed she had been sectioned as recently as December.

“We thought she was in conditions to give testimony yesterday, but her mother told us that would be impossible,” Santiago Marin said.

The trial has been postponed indefinitely, leaving serious questions unanswered about reality TV’s role in protecting participants and disturbing issues of consent.

big brother
Jose Maria and Carlota were a couple on the 19th series of Spain’s version of Big Brother – Gran Hermano. It was the last season to air. Source: Archive.

The case dates to November 3, 2017, when multiple cameras showed Jose Maria ‘rolling around’ with a drunk Carlota under the covers.

Both were 24 at the time.

Carlota can be hear asking ‘stop’ and ‘get off me’ before seen with her eyes shut in a state of unconsciousness.

The two contestants – Carlota unaware of what had happened – were left until the evening of November 4 when producers from Zeppelin TV (the show aired on Telecinco) brought Carlota into the diary room.

There they made Carlota watch the entire video of the previous night, from multiple angles.

Producers reportedly told Carlota to keep quiet about the incident ‘for her own good and that of Jose Maria Lopez’ before booting out Jose Maria and revealing nothing for two years.

In the end, it was Carlota who revealed what had happened in an Instagram post in 2019, stating she’d had ‘trouble’ in getting on with her life.

The news story and various videos of the incidents hit international press, and 2019 marked the end of Gran Hermano’s run in Spain.

Advertisers quickly dropped the show, and no more seasons have been aired since.

In previous testimonies to judges, dating to December 2018, Carlota said ‘the producers watched this all like it was a f**king movie without doing anything about it’.

The producer that evening, Maria Robles, confirmed that a drunk Carlota and sober Jose Maria had left the party.

“I could see a fight brewing, which would make good content for us,” Robles told the Madrid judge.

“Carlota was staggering and blinking more slowly, and I noticed Jose Maria looked fresh.”

Robles said she called Carlota after noticing her head ‘moving uncontrollably’ while unconscious, but Carlota did not respond.

When the production team did eventually show Carlota the footage, they filmed her to get her reaction, before separating her in a hotel room to get psychological support.

One of the lead producers also filed a complaint with the Guardia Civil in Colmenar Viejo, where the show was filmed, the day after the events.

Carlota spoke out in 2020 about the abuse ‘from all over Spain’ she had received since revealing the events back in 2017.

“People in the Metro, people on the street, people on the bus, and event people I knew – I’ve had threats and people telling me I’m scum,” Carlota, originally from Estepona on the Costa del Sol, said.

“My mother has had letters shoved under her door, my sister has had her life made impossible at work.

“The story is that I sold myself to Telecinco, that it’s all a lie, that I’m giving women who go through the same thing a bad name.”

Another issue is the judge taking on the present rape allegations has said there is ‘not enough evidence’ to try Jose Maria for a crime of rape.

This is due to two issues: Spanish law states that sexual abuse cannot be considered rape unless violence or intimidation took place; and secondly that penetration is impossible to determine as the alleged abuse happened ‘under covers’.

The state prosecution is therefore seeking a lower sentence of 2 years and 6 months prison, with €6000 in damages from Jose Maria and €6000 in damages from Zeppelin TV.

The TV production show reportedly offered Carlota €25,000 and ‘vocational training’ but it is not known under what terms and if an agreement was reached.


Joshua Parfitt

Joshua James Parfitt is the Costa Blanca correspondent for the Olive Press. He holds a gold-standard NCTJ in multimedia journalism from the award-winning News Associates in Twickenham. His work has been published in the Sunday Times, Esquire, the Mail on Sunday, the Daily Mail, the Sun, the Sun on Sunday, the Mirror, among others. He has appeared on BBC Breakfast to discuss devastating flooding in Spain, as well as making appearances on BBC and LBC radio stations.

Contact me now: joshua@theolivepress.es or call +44 07960046259. Twitter: @jjparfitt

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