Andrew Tate is charged with rape and human trafficking in Romania

FILE - Andrew Tate touches his beard after leaving the Bucharest Tribunal, in Bucharest, Romania, Friday, April 21, 2023. Romanian prosecutors charged on Tuesday, June 20, 2023, the Tate brothers and two other suspects with human trafficking, rape and organizing a criminal group for the sexual exploitation of women. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, File)

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Divisive social media personality Andrew Tate and his brother, Tristan, have been charged with rape, human trafficking and forming a criminal gang to exploit women, prosecutors in Romania said Tuesday.

Romania’s anti-organized crime agency, DIICOT, said prosecutors filed the charges against the brothers, who are both British-U.S. dual citizens, along with two Romanian women in a court in the capital Bucharest.

In a statement, the agency said the four defendants formed a criminal group in 2021 “in order to commit the crime of human trafficking” in Romania as well as the United States and Britain. It alleged that seven female victims were misled and transported to Romania, where they were sexually exploited and subjected to physical violence by the gang.

One defendant raped an alleged victim twice in March 2022, according to the statement.

The Tate brothers and the two Romanian suspects were detained in late December in Bucharest. The brothers won an appeal on March 31 to be moved from police custody to house arrest.

Tate, 36, is a former professional kickboxer with more than 6 million Twitter followers, many of them young men and schoolchildren. He was previously banned from various social media platforms for expressing misogynistic views and hate speech.

Tate, who has resided in Romania since 2017, has repeatedly claimed Romanian prosecutors have no evidence and alleged their case is a political conspiracy designed to silence him.

Romania’s anti-organized crime agency said the seven alleged victims were recruited following false claims of love, and were taken to Ilfov county in Romania where they were forced to take part in pornography. The women were allegedly controlled by “intimidation, constant surveillance” and claims that they were in debt, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors have ordered the confiscation of assets from the Tate brothers including 15 luxury cars, luxury watches and about $3 million they held in cryptocurrency, the agency’s statement said.

Several women in Britain were also pursuing civil claims for damages from Tate, alleging they were victims of sexual violence. In a recent interview with the BBC, Tate denied spreading a culture of misogyny and accusations that he manipulated women for financial gain.

On Tuesday, Tate’s spokesperson Mateea Petrescu said the brothers were prepared to “demonstrate their innocence and vindicate their reputation.” The two men are expected to attend a hearing in Bucharest on Wednesday morning, she added.

“Tate’s legal team are prepared to cooperate fully with the appropriate authorities, presenting all necessary evidence to exonerate the brothers and expose any misinterpretations or false accusations,” Petrescu said.

According to Romanian law, a judge has up to 60 days to assess the files in the case before the defendants are sent to trial.

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