ROME -- Italy's highest court ruled yesterday a man who raped the 14-year-old daughter of his girlfriend can seek to have his sentenced reduced on the mitigating circumstances that the girl was already sexually active, news reports said.

The ruling provoked an outcry across Italy, was condemned by UNICEF and prompted other justices on the Court of Cassation to issue a statement saying the ruling was wrong.

A man identified as Marco T. was originally convicted of sexual violence and threats against the 14-year-old and sentenced to three years and four months in prison.

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