By Caitríona Ní Chonaill

Controversial internet personality Andrew Tate, along with his brother Tristan and two other suspects, has today been charged by the Romanian authorities with rape, human trafficking, and forming a criminal gang to sexually exploit women.

Trial will not start immediately, is expected to take several years, starting with the Romanian judge now having 60 days to inspect the case files before he can be sent to trial.

First arrested in December at their home in Bucharest, moved in March from custody to house arrest following a ruling by a Romanian judge. The defendants are under house arrest pending a criminal investigation into crimes committed against 7 women, which they have denied.

Alleged victims were recruited by the brothers by claiming to want relationships or marriage with them. The victims were then allegedly taken to buildings in the county of Ilfov in Romania where they were subjected to intimidation, constant surveillance, and control and later forced to take part in pornography that was shared on social media. One of the defendants is accused of raping a woman twice in March 2022. There are also offenses that the group allegedly created an organized crime group to commit human trafficking in Romania, but also in other countries including the United Kingdom and the US.

Andrew Tate, a British-American former kickboxer, first drew attention when he was removed from the British reality tv show Big Brother in 2016 over a video that appeared to show him attacking a woman. He then went on to gain notoriety online and his account was banned on Twitter for saying that women should “bear some responsibility” for being sexually assaulted. His account has since been reinstated. Despite his social media bans, he has gained popularity, particularly with young men, amongst whom he has built up a devout following, who echo his beliefs and view him as an oracle for the hyper-masculine, luxurious lifestyle he portrays online.