By John Jalsevac

ROME, Italy, February 8, 2008 ( – A 34-year-old Italian man received a slap on the wrist for his sexual relationship with a 13-year-old girl, after the court decided that there was evidence of “real love” between the pair. The man’s lawyers argued that the 13-year-old girl consented to her sexual relationship with the older man.

  Instead of the possible maxiumum sentence of 12 years, Antonio de Pascale, a Vicenza butcher, was sentenced to one year and two months. According to the Telegraph, however, it is unlikely that Pascale will actually serve any of that time in prison.

  The case has been called a “Lolita-like” love affair, making reference to the controversial novel by Vladimir Nabokov, which depicts the romantic and sexual relationship between a much older man and a 12-year-old girl.

  The court’s decision has been blasted by a number of individuals and groups for its putting of minors at risk. Antonio Marziale, the president of the Association for the Protection of the Rights of Minors, said the decision was “execrable”, reports the Telegraph.

“It is not right to judge whether or not a 13-year-old girl is willing. The law should safeguard young girls who are too immature to make these decisions against adults without scruples.

  Roman judge, Simonetta Matone, said, however, that the law must “always look to be reasonable in these cases”.

“Every relationship is a relationship and the real maturity, whether physical or psychological, of the minor must be weighed, with the help of experts.”

  Federico Moccia, the author of Excuse Me But I Love You, said: “This seems a very strange situation to me. Obviously in a relationship between a child and an adult, the adult has to stop himself. A girl has to be able to value the situation, and a girl this young is certainly not capable. My appeal to 13-year-olds is to wait for your time.”