A contestant on Brazil’s most popular reality television program stands accused of raping a fellow contestant on live television.
According to The Associated Press and The Sun, 31-year-old male model Daniel Echaniz forced himself on 23-year-old student Monique Amin following a drunken night of revelry on the set of “Big Brother Brazil.” Cameras were rolling as Echaniz climbed into bed with Amin; grainy night-vision footage shows what appears to be him having sex with the young woman, who appears to be passed out drunk.
Asked about the incident the following day, Amin said she couldn’t remember anything from the previous night. When police arrived at the Big Brother house, they interviewed her for three hours before taking her away for a medical examination.
According to G1, Amin told police that there was no sex between her and Echaniz, and she did not want a forensic examination performed.
Police told O Globo, Brazil’s biggest television network, that they had to stop broadcasting Big Brother or remove Echaniz from the program.
The alleged rapist was kicked out of the Big Brother house. Pedro Bial, the show’s presenter, said:
“Since Sunday morning, the board had been evaluating the behaviour of Daniel, who is suspected of having infringed the rules of the programme. Big Brother examined his behavior without jumping to conclusions and with the utmost care. The images showed a breach of the rules of the programme. After careful evaluation, the direction of the programme found that the behavior of the contestant on the night of the party was seriously inadequate.”
According to Moral Low Ground’s Brazilian sources, Amin’s mother Claudia was watching Big Brother and witnessed Monique’s alleged rape.
“I perplexed by what happened, because of course my daughter was sleeping,” she told O Dia.
Echaniz’s mother, Maria Aparecida Echaniz, told the Brazilian newspaper O Globo that her son, who is mixed-race, is the real victim. “Daniel is the victim of racism,” she said. She is threatening legal action against Amin’s family if the sexual assault allegation against her son prove to be unfounded.
The explosive story has captivated Brazilians, an estimated 8 million of whom watch Big Brother Brazil. The incident has sparked a national debate about what constitutes rape, with some observers doubting whether or not Amin was really unconscious at the time of the alleged assault. Some have even blamed her for drinking too much.
If Echaniz is found guilty of the assault he could face up to ten years behind bars.
UPDATE: O Dia reports that both Echaniz and Amin appeared in court and denied that any rape had occurred on Big Brother.
“They confirmed that they were under the covers with the consent of both. They played, but denied that there was sex,” Precinct 32 principal delegate Ricardo Antonio Lima Nunes told the paper. ”Even after drinking alcohol, she was able to say no.”
The delegate may request the seizure of underwear and the blanket from the bed where the alleged rape occurred as evidence.
Due to the public nature of the alleged incident (it was seen live by millions of Brazilian viewers), the widespread dissemination of the video and Amin’s denial of rape, Moral Low Ground has reconsidered its decision not to post footage of the alleged assault. Here it is: