German band Rammstein hit by sex abuse scandal

Numerous Rammstein concerts in Munich have been altered at the last minute as the German band faces allegations of systemic sexual abuse of female fans.

Rammstein sexual assault allegations
Rammstein frontman Till Lindemann performs at a concert in Düsseldorf. Lindemann is at the centre of a wave of sexual assault allegations. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Malte Krudewig

The gigs at Munich’s Olympiastadion between June 7th and June 11th have not been cancelled, but a notorious zone in the audience known as ‘Row Zero’ will no longer be present at the events, and all after parties will be cancelled.

The changes were reported on Monday after a slew of sexual abuse accusations against Rammstein raised serious questions of safety for young women at the concert.

In particular, several women have recently accused frontman Till Lindemann, 60, of grooming and sexually assaulting them at after-show parties.

The accusations prompted the city’s Green Party to submit an emergency motion to Munich City Council calling for measures to make the concerts safer, including providing sexual assault “awareness teams” and removing the notorious Row Zero area. The motion was signed by the Left Party and Ecological Democratic Party. 

Row Zero, or Nulle Reihe – a cordoned-off area directly in front of the stage – had been a key feature of many women’s reports of sexual misconduct against Rammstein.

The special VIP area, which was a common feature of the band’s gigs, was allegedly part of a system used to find young women and weed them out from the crowd.

According to the testimonies from accusers, female fans who were selected in Row Zero were often invited to so-called ‘after-parties’ where they described being encouraged to drink alcohol or being secretly drugged. 

Some women also alleged that they had been sexually assaulted in this state or made to perform acts they hadn’t consented to.

READ ALSO: German rockers Rammstein slammed over ‘repulsive’ Holocaust video clip

Sexual assault allegations

The scandal erupted after a young Irish woman, Shelby Lynn, posted on social media that she had been drugged and propositioned by Lindemann at a backstage party in Vilnius.

Several other women have since come forward with allegations of grooming and sexual assault at Rammstein concerts.

Most recently, influencer Kayla Shyx posted a video on YouTube in which she described her experience of attending a Rammstein concert on June 4th, 2022. 

She said her and a friend were approached by a Russian woman called Alena Makeeva during the interval and invited to an exclusive event after the gig.

“We thought we were going to the after party … all of a sudden she takes us into a back room like this … and she said you’re waiting for Till now,” Shyx said. “We were just brought in there so Rammstein could pick some of us.”

According to Shyx, women were made to hand their phones over to security guards before being taking to a backroom with sofas and alcohol. 

In the toilet, she said she was told by another woman that they were in a pre-selection of women to have sex with Lindemann. “All of a sudden I realise: I’m here as a sex object. Panic, panic.”

Shyx and her friend subsequently left the event, she said. However, she said she was prevented from discussing what had happened by her management and other figures in the industry.

“Everyone talked it down,” Shyx explained. “I was just scared. I’m scared to do the video now too.”

‘Young people must be protected’

Despite the changes made to the upcoming concerts in Olympiastadion, the allegations against Rammstein have kicked off a serious debate about the protection of women at concerts.

Speaking to AFP on Tuesday, Families Minister Lisa Paus (Greens) called for protected areas for women at concerts as well as the use of
so-called awareness teams to deal with suspected sexual assaults.

“Young people in particular must be better protected from assault,” she said. 

She also called for the complete abolition of Rammstein’s “Row Zero” system, which offers a VIP concert experience to a select group of fans, including the chance to stand right in front of the stage before access to an after-show party.

New protective measures must be discussed “quickly and concretely”, Paus said, calling for “a serious debate about the responsibility of artists and promoters towards their fans”.

In a poll published Tuesday, Bild daily said a majority of people called for the group’s remaining European tour gigs to be cancelled until the allegations are cleared up.

In the past, the industrial metal band has regularly courted controversy with extreme lyrics that are seen to glamourise far-right politics, violence and sexualised violence against women. 

Meanwhile, the band has vigorously denied the accusations and has hired a Berlin-based PR agency specialised in crisis
management to help with the fallout from the scandal, according to reports in Welt.

Welt also reported on Tuesday that Alena Makeeva – the Russian woman accused of recruiting young women to engage in sexual practices
with Lindemann – had been banned from all further Rammstein concerts.

With additional reporting by AFP

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German court ruling paves way for trial of Maddie suspect

A German court was told Tuesday it has jurisdiction to try the prime suspect in the disappearance of British toddler Madeleine McCann for unrelated sexual offences, paving the way for a trial.

German court ruling paves way for trial of Maddie suspect

The regional court in Brunswick, north Germany, had said in April that it  could not hear the case against Christian B. because the suspect’s last known  address was in a different part of the country.

But a higher court in Brunswick ruled on Tuesday that there was insufficient evidence of another place of residence, after prosecutors appealed the decision.

“The regional court of Brunswick has local jurisdiction for the charges and  must decide on the opening of proceedings,” the higher regional court said in a statement.

Christian B. is already behind bars, serving a seven-year sentence for  raping a 72-year-old US tourist in the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz in 2005.

READ ALSO: 15 years on, Portugal eyes German suspect in missing Maddie case

He is also the main suspect in the disappearance of the then three-year-old “Maddie” McCann from a holiday apartment at Praia da Luz in 2007.

Brunswick prosecutors have said they believe Christian B. murdered the girl, but he has yet to face any charges in the McCann case.

As part of their investigations, Brunswick prosecutors last year charged  him with three counts of rape and two sexual offences against children in Portugal — unrelated to McCann — between 2000 and 2017.

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Judges in Brunswick must now decide whether to launch a trial over these  charges.

Brunswick prosecutors welcomed Tuesday’s ruling on the jurisdiction issue, with spokesman Christian Wolters saying it had also “brought clarity for the  Maddie case”.

The investigations into the McCann case were still ongoing, Wolters told AFP.

Reservoir searched

McCann went missing a few days before her fourth birthday, as her parents dined with friends at a tapas bar near the apartment.

Despite a huge international manhunt and global media attention, no trace of her has been found and no one has been charged over her disappearance.

In 2020, German prosecutors revealed they were investigating Christian B. in connection with the case, saying they had “concrete evidence” he killed Maddie.

In May, investigators carried out a three-day search at a reservoir in southern Portugal, at the request of German prosecutors, in the hopes of finding clues into McCann’s disappearance.

Brunswick prosecutors afterwards said “a number of objects” were secured during the search, but that it was too soon to determine any link with the McCann case.

“New investigation results, including those related to the search operation in Portugal, are not yet available,” Wolters told AFP on Tuesday.