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Andrew Tate Charged With Rape and Human Trafficking in Romania

Controversial influencer Andrew Tate, and three other suspects have been indicted on charges of human trafficking, rape, and forming an organized crime group to sexually exploit women.

Romanian prosecutors announced recently that controversial influencer Andrew Tate, his brother Tristan and two Romanian female suspects have been indicted on charges of human trafficking, rape, and forming an organized crime group to sexually exploit women in Romania, Britain, and the United States.

The investigation was sparked in 2022 when the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest tipped off Romanian police that a 21-year-old American citizen was being held against her will in a property belonging to the Tates.

The Tate brothers, both dual UK-US nationals, are accused of allegedly recruiting seven victims through false declarations of love and marriage in what prosecutors have called the “loverboy method.” Both former kickboxers, the brothers, are the highest profile suspects facing trial for human trafficking in Romania.

Court documents, including extensive text messaging records, show how the Tates tricked and lured women by seducing them and falsely claiming to want a relationship or marriage before “exercising acts of physical violence and mental coercion,” according to a translation of a statement from Romania’s directorate for investigating organized crime and terrorism.

Related: 15 Facts About Human Sex Trafficking

“The injured persons were recruited by the foreign nationals by misleading them about the intention to establish a marriage/cohabitation relationship and the existence of real feelings of love,” the prosecutor’s statement said. 

The alleged victims were then taken to properties outside Bucharest and, through physical violence and mental intimidation,  sexually exploited by being forced to produce pornographic content for social media sites that generated large financial gains, prosecutors said. The women were allegedly controlled and coerced by “intimidation and constant surveillance” and forced into debt, according to the statement.

Andrew also faces charges, including two incidents of raping one of the women he allegedly trafficked from London in March 2022. His brother Tristan faces charges surrounding instigating others into violence. Prosecutors said they are also investigating the four suspects in a separate ongoing case on allegations of money laundering, witness tampering, and child and adult trafficking.

Several women in Britain alleging they were victims of sexual violence are also pursuing civil claims to obtain damages from Tate.

Suspects first arrested in 2022

The four suspects were first arrested in Bucharest in December 2022. They remained in police custody until March 2023, when the court put them under house arrest. On June 20, the court ruled that their house arrest be extended for 30 more days.

Under Romanian law, the judge has up to 60 days to assess the files before the defendants get sent to trial. In Romania, trafficking of adults and rape each carry a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

Related: What’s Going On with Pornhub? A Simplified Timeline of Events

The indictment also sought the confiscation of the brother’s assets, including property, luxury watches and vehicles, cash, and about $3 million in cryptocurrency. 

In response, Andrew sarcastically tweeted, “I’m sure this case has absolutely nothing to do with stealing my wealth.” 

All defendants have denied the allegations. Both brothers have repeatedly made claims on social media, saying the accusations are part of a conspiracy against them to attempt to curb their influence and using their arrest as further proof that men are being victimized.

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The Tate brothers’ media team released the following statement

“While this news is undoubtedly predictable, we embrace the opportunity it presents to demonstrate their innocence and vindicate their reputation.” It added that the indictment “allows us to present a comprehensive body of evidence, diligently collected and prepared over time, which will undoubtedly substantiate the brothers’ claims of innocence.”

Who is Andrew Tate?

Tate, known online for his personal brand built on hyper-masculinity and misogynistic views, has grown a massive following of mainly young men by promoting a lavish lifestyle and get-rich-quick schemes. He’s known for his controversial and demeaning statements about women, saying that women “belong” to men, has described how he would go about physically attacking a woman, and said women are partly responsible for their rape

He has used his extreme wealth to promote his masculinity and has created an online “academy” to teach his followers how to have the same lifestyle.

Related: How Porn and Pop Culture Can Fuel Racism and Violence Against Women

The Tate brothers are both former professional kickboxers. In 2016 Andrew Tate was also a contestant on the UK reality show Big Brother and gained notoriety for misogynistic remarks and hate speech. He was removed from the show when a video appeared to show him attacking a woman with a belt. 

Tate was ultimately banned on all major social media platforms, but his Twitter account is since been reinstated, where he boasts nearly 7 million followers. Understandably, many educators have raised concerns that Tate’s message is gaining popularity among impressionable young boys, but that’s not the only media source pushing a message rooted in misogyny.

Misogyny is all too common in mainstream porn

Tate’s public views of hate and degradation against women are common themes in mainstream porn. It’s especially concerning when you consider how many young people consume porn while they’re still developing their self-identities and understanding of sexuality and relationships.

The idea that violence is an acceptable fantasy is consistent with Tate’s attitudes and behaviors and is what is commonly promoted on mainstream porn sites. As few as 1 in 3 and as many as 9 in 10 porn videos depict sexual violence or aggression, usually from a man against a woman.[1]Fritz, N., Malic, V., Paul, B., & Zhou, Y. (2020). A Descriptive Analysis of the Types, Targets, and Relative Frequency of Aggression in Mainstream Pornography. Archives of sexual behavior, 49(8), 3041–3053. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-020-01773-0Copy 

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How does this normalization of sexual violence affect porn consumers? Well, according to neuroscientific studies, with repeated exposure to porn, consumers can become desensitized to some sexual content and may need to consume increasingly extreme content to get the same rush as before.[2]Banca, P., Morris, L. S., Mitchell, S., Harrison, N. A., Potenza, M. N., & Voon, V. (2016). Novelty, conditioning and attentional bias to sexual rewards. Journal of psychiatric research, 72, 91–101. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2015.10.017Copy 

Watching scene after scene of dehumanizing or violent content can start to seem normal.Daneback, K., Ševčíková, A., & Ježek, S. (2018). Exposure to online sexual materials in adolescence and desensitization to sexual content. Sexologies, 27(3), e71-e76. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sexol.2018.04.001Copy Ezzell, M. B., Johnson, J. A., Bridges, A. J., & Sun, C. F. (2020). I (dis)like it like that: Gender, pornography, and liking sex. J.Sex Marital Ther., 46(5), 460-473. doi:10.1080/0092623X.2020.1758860Copy  In fact, research indicates that porn consumers are more likely to sexually objectify and dehumanize others,Mikorski, R., & Szymanski, D. M. (2017). Masculine norms, peer group, pornography, facebook, and men’s sexual objectification of women. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 18(4), 257-267. doi:10.1037/men0000058Copy Skorska, M.N., Hodson, G., & Hoffarth, M.R. (2018). Experimental effects of degrading versus erotic pornography exposure in men on reactions toward women (objectification, sexism, discrimination). The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 27, 261 - 276.Copy Zhou, Y., Liu, T., Yan, Y., & Paul, B. (2021). Pornography use, two forms of dehumanization, and sexual aggression: Attitudes vs. behaviors. Null, 1-20. https://doi.org/10.1080/0092623X.2021.1923598Copy  more likely to express an intent to rape,Foubert, J. D., Brosi, M. W., & Bannon, R. S. (2011). Pornography viewing among fraternity men: Effects on bystander intervention, rape myth acceptance and behavioral intent to commit sexual assault.18(4), 212-231. doi:10.1080/10720162.2011.625552Copy  less likely to intervene during a sexual assault,Foubert, J. D., Brosi, M. W., & Bannon, R. S. (2011). Pornography viewing among fraternity men: Effects on bystander intervention, rape myth acceptance and behavioral intent to commit sexual assault. 18(4), 212-231. doi:10.1080/10720162.2011.625552Copy  Foubert, J. D., & Bridges, A. J. (2017). What Is the Attraction? Pornography Use Motives in Relation to Bystander Intervention. Journal of Adolescent Research, 32(20), 213–243. https://doi.org/10.1177/0743558414547097Copy  more likely to victim-blame survivors of sexual assault,Foubert, J. D., Brosi, M. W., & Bannon, R. S. (2011). Pornography viewing among fraternity men: Effects on bystander intervention, rape myth acceptance and behavioral intent to commit sexual assault.18(4), 212-231. doi:10.1080/10720162.2011.625552Copy Foubert, J. D., & Bridges, A. J. (2017). What Is the Attraction? Pornography Use Motives in Relation to Bystander Intervention. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 32(20), 3071–3089. https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260515596538Copy  more likely to support violence against women,Wright, P. J., & Tokunaga, R. S. (2016). Men's Objectifying Media Consumption, Objectification of Women, and Attitudes Supportive of Violence Against Women. Archives of sexual behavior, 45(4), 955–964. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-015-0644-8Copy Seabrook, R. C., Ward, L. M., & Giaccardi, S. (2019). Less than human? media use, objectification of women, and men’s acceptance of sexual aggression. Psychology of Violence, 9(5), 536-545. doi:10.1037/vio0000198Copy  more likely to forward sexts without consent,van Oosten, J., & Vandenbosch, L. (2020). Predicting the Willingness to Engage in Non-Consensual Forwarding of Sexts: The Role of Pornography and Instrumental Notions of Sex. Archives of sexual behavior, 49(4), 1121–1132. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-019-01580-2Copy  and more likely to commit actual acts of sexual violence.Wright, P. J., Tokunaga, R. S., & Kraus, A. (2016). A meta-analysis of pornography consumption and actual acts of sexual aggression in general population studies. Journal of Communication, 66(1), 183-205. doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/jcom.12201Copy Rostad, W. L., Gittins-Stone, D., Huntington, C., Rizzo, C. J., Pearlman, D., & Orchowski, L. (2019). The association between exposure to violent pornography and teen dating violence in grade 10 high school students. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 48(7), 2137-2147. doi:10.1007/s10508-019-1435-4Copy Goodson, A., Franklin, C. A., & Bouffard, L. A. (2021). Male peer support and sexual assault: The relation between high-profile, high school sports participation and sexually predatory behaviour. 27(1), 64-80. doi:10.1080/13552600.2020.1733111Copy Mikorski, R., & Szymanski, D. M. (2017). Masculine norms, peer group, pornography, Facebook, and men’s sexual objectification of women. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 18(4), 257-267. doi:10.1037/men0000058Copy 

Related: How Porn Can Promote Sexual Violence

A significant portion of the porn consumed by millions of people every day reinforces the message that sexual violence is a normal part of what “good sex” is supposed to be, making it more challenging for many young people to have healthy sexual relationships where their consent and boundaries are respected. As our society continues to reckon with rape culture and the things that perpetuate it, it’s important that we start to recognize the role that porn plays in normalizing sexual violence.

Regular porn consumers might tell themselves that they aren’t personally affected by porn or the toxic messages it perpetuates, but research suggests otherwise. There is no guarantee that porn won’t affect a consumer’s attitudes about sex in unhealthy ways.

Taking out hate on women and using them as objects for consumption and a vehicle for social advancement is unacceptable and harmful. Porn is too often dismissed as harmless fantasy, but it’s clear how the narratives it portrays reinforce these damaging ideals.

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