Fashion student Serena Bowes, 21, claims that she was raped in a nightclub toilet while on an undergraduate college trip to Florence, Italy. However, weeks after returning to her home to Newcastle in the UK, she received a letter from Italian authorities saying she faced charges for making false rape accusations.
If found guilty, she could be looking at up to 12 years in an Italian jail.
Bowes is denying the false rape charge.
According to The Daily Mail, Bowes and a group of friends visited a nightclub in the city’s Via della Vigna Vecchia. She started talking to a man outside the club, and they eventually made their way to the VIP section, where she was taken to the unisex toilet and attacked.
Carole Kitching, Principal at Newcastle College who was sponsoring the trip, relayed their side of the story. “Twenty-one-year-old student, Serena Bowes, told us about a serious assault whilst on a undergraduate college trip to Italy earlier this year,” she said. “It took place during their free time, and as soon as staff were alerted they contacted the police and accompanied Serena, with the police to the hospital.”
However, the man — who was known in the nightclub — was cleared and released from custody. Police watched CCTV images of Bowes leaving the bathroom with the Italian, and noted that she “exhibiting behavior incompatible with an attack that she had alleged to have happened a few moments before.” Likewise, doctors at the hospital said that she showed no signs of a sexual assault, although she did appear to be in shock.
“I will never go back to Florence because of what happened, never mind going to prison there,” she told The Daily Mail; however, under Italian law she doesn’t have to be present at the trial. If convicted, she is entitled to two appeals. If those fail, there is a chance that she would be extradited to the country, though few think this is likely.
In the meantime, her mother is trying to find legal advice to help with the case.