Veronica Garcia: The Survivor is a Hairdresser Today

Max’s true crime docuseries, ‘Hell on Earth: The Verónica Case,’ delves into the unsettling aftermath of a rape case that ends up plaguing the survivor and her family’s lives for years to come. At 13, Veronica García underwent a horrific turn of events when her neighbor, Antonio Soriano, raped the teenager while she was out on an errand. As a result, after Veronica managed to escape her rapist, informing her mother, María del Carmen García, about the event, the family embarked on the dogged journey to justice. Nevertheless, despite Soriano’s prison sentence, Carmen ran into the man out and about in the town years later.

Consequently, Carmen set Soriano on fire, setting the Garcia family up for another uphill legal battle. The documentary series scrutinizes the social rejection Veronica García — and her family — faced at the hands of their community during difficult times when the young woman underwent gross victim-blaming. Likewise, it also highlights the shift of time and perspective that brought widespread support for Veronica’s mother during her criminal case.

Veronica García’s Chilling Escape From Her Attacker

On October 17, 1998, Veronica García, at 13 years old, went out to get a loaf of bread at her mother’s request — a routine aspect of the young girl’s week. As per her own account in the documentary, the Benejúzar, Spain, resident took a detour on her return home to check up on a local dog she had bonded with over time. It was then that her paths, unfortunately, crossed with Antonio Soriano, nicknamed “Pincelito,” around the neighborhood. The girl recognized the 62-year-old man as her own neighbor and thought little of his presence.

However, Soriano’s presence led to disaster as the man snatched Veronica and took her into the forest. There, he held the young girl at knifepoint and raped her. The teenager only escaped the encounter by pleading with him, promising not to report him and reminding him of his own granddaughters of a similar age. Once she returned to her home with bruises and cuts, Veronica told her mother, Carmen, everything. While the family was in shock, they acted quickly and reported Soriano to the police and took their daughter to the hospital.

After the news broke out, the townsfolk of Benejúzar remained divided by the incident, with numerous people siding with Soriano, accusing Veronica and her mother of lying. In fact, once Veronica — who decided to begin her journey toward recovery as soon as possible — returned to school four days later, her classmates incessantly bullied her, claiming she must have provoked the 62-year-old man with her own actions. The social rejection reached such a peak that the girl transferred schools to another town for a year, where she lived with her aunt and uncle.

Likewise, Carmen suffered grave mental suffering due to the trauma and her hostile social environment. Eventually, Veronica had to return home to Benejúzar, where she and her family moved to the other side of the town to escape their past. Furthermore, December of 2000 brought some good news for the family as the court passed a verdict on Soranio, sentencing him to nine years in prison as well as enforcing an 18,000 euro compensation fine. Nevertheless, the man continued to deny the allegations, employing the dated argument of Veronica’s intact hymen. Still, the mounting evidence against him— including the semen found in the young girl’s clothes ultimately lost Soranio the case.

Nevertheless, the court trial process and the town’s rejection of Veronica took a toll on the girl and her family, especially her mother. Therefore, it was a shock when Carmen crossed paths with Soranio in 2005 on a non-conspicuous day at the bus stop. The man, who was an inmate at Villena prison, had used a prison permit to return to Benejúzar for a day. Allegedly, upon their meeting at the bus stop, Soranio approached Carmen and asked her about Veronica. Consequently, the mother ended up following Soriano to a bar with a bottle of gasoline, dousing him with it, and setting him on fire.

Where is Veronica García Now?

Although Veronica’s mother, María del Carmen García, fled from the scene after setting Antonio Soriano on fire, the authorities caught up to her near the Port of Alicante in Alicante, Spain, by nightfall. Thus began another long and arduous legal battle for the García family. During this time, Veronica, in her 20s, remained a constant support to her mother. The latter’s deteriorating mental health was a known fact since the woman had been receiving treatment at Orihuela Mental Health Unit since her daughter’s rape. Furthermore, the circumstances around Soriano’s death compelled many to stand in support of Carmen, labeling her the “La madre Justiciera” and “La madre del Coraje,” each translating to Mother of Justice and Mother of Courage.

Joaquín Galant, who represented Veronica in her court case, became the family’s attorney again as the court ruled Carmen’s actions as homicide in 2010 and sentenced her to nine and a half years in prison. Eventually, the sentence was cut down to five and a half years with € 80,000 compensation to Soriano’s widow. Still, Galant and the García family attempted to cut Carmen’s prison time by appealing for a pardon. As her case caught the internet’s attention, people started supporting her in hordes. Several feminist platforms also came out in support of the mother. For her part, Veronica began speaking to the media to argue her mother’s case with the public.

During that time, the young woman received indomitable support from her friend, Puri, who attended hairdresser school with the former. The court denied Carmen’s pardon, leading the woman to spend years in the Fontcalent prison. Yet, after her mother’s initial imprisonment in 2013, Veronica was able to reunite with her in public in 2018 after Carmen received a daytime prison release. Under the release’s conditions, the woman could spend her days in freedom and only had to return to jail at night. The same was a result of the considerable public support behind Carmen, her own lack of a criminal record, and Galant and Veronica’s efforts. Thus, the latter now has her mother back in her life.

Despite the notable media coverage the family received in the past, Veronica prefers to live her life in privacy. Nevertheless, she agreed to support her mother in her journey once Carmen decided to share their story in Max’s docuseries. Therefore, Veronica is steadily putting the past behind her while also acknowledging and working through her trauma. As a result of the same, the public remains privy to knowledge of Veronica’s pregnancy, with the woman expecting a baby boy. Furthermore, her career as a hairdresser and continued friendship with Puri remain public knowledge. Nevertheless, with a stark lack of presence on any social media platforms, Veronica, at 39, seems to prefer her privacy.

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