An appeals court in France on Monday cleared Koffi Olomidé of sexually assaulting four of his former dancers between 2002 and 2006. The Congolese rumba star was, however, found guilty of holding the women against their will, RFI reported.
The 65-year-old’s former dancers alleged the singer sexually assaulted them and also held them against their will at a residence outside Paris. But the appeals court cleared Olomidé of rape “for the benefit of doubt”. The court’s president cited the “evolving and sometimes contradictory statements” the women gave.
The court’s president, however, ruled that the women being allegedly held against their will was “not in doubt”, adding that they were “deprived of all freedom and constantly watched” by two Congolese guards at the residence in question. The guards were said to be Olomidé’s accomplices.
Olomidé received an 18-month suspended jail sentence and was ordered to compensate the victims. The two guards also received six-month suspended jail sentences. They were also ordered to compensate the victims. The women will receive between €10,000 (around $11,000) and €32,000 (around $36,000) each.
Following the ruling, a lawyer representing three of the complainants said the women would “obviously be disappointed about the sexual assault verdicts because for them this was the most important thing”, BBC reported. One of the women claimed Olomidé assaulted them “in hotels, sometimes in the cars… in recording studios.”
The women also claimed Olomidé hit them if they tried resisting his advances, RFI reported. The 65-year-old singer, who resides in France, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
In 2019, a French court handed Olomidé a suspended two-year jail sentence after he was found guilty of the statutory rape of one of the women, Face2Face Africa reported. The victim was 15 years old at the time. The court, however, dismissed the allegations by the three other women.
But during his recent trial, prosecutors had wanted the court to sentence Olomidé to eight years in jail and also reverse the 2019 ruling.
Olomide’s career has been marred with a handful of controversies and run-ins with the law. In 2008, the 65-year-old was accused of assaulting a cameraman from a local TV station at a concert in Kinshasa, DR Congo. The two later reconciled. He was also handed a suspended three-month jail sentence after assaulting his producer in the same country in 2012.
Then in 2016, he was deported from Kenya after he was caught on tape allegedly assaulting one of his female dancers at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. Zambia also issued an arrest warrant for the French-Congolese singer in 2018 after he was accused of assaulting a Rwandan photojournalist in Lusaka in 2012.