The popular musician Axel has been accused of sexual assault, it has emerged, with a string of further allegations set to follow, according to the lawyer for the alleged victim.
In an announcement released by the Public Prosecutor's Office in Rio Negro Province after a surge in speculation online, it was conirmed that a report was filed last Tuesday against the singer, full name Axel Patricio Fernando Witteveen, by a young woman who alleged the musician abused her in 2017.
“The public prosecutor’s office reported Tuesday, October 15 that they received the report accusing the artist, best known as Axel, of a ‘crime against sexual integrity,’” they disclosed in their statement.
They elaborated that “according to the victim, the offence committed in 2017 will be considered simple sexual assault (under Article 119, paragraph one of the Penal Code).”
Simple sexual assault, as defined under Argentina's Criminal Code, "when there is violence, threat, coercive or intimidating abuse of a relationship of dependence, authority, or power, or taking advantage that the victim for any reason could not freely consent to the action.” It can carry a prison term of between six months to four years in prison.
The prosecution said they are working closely with alleged victim and their lawyer in gathering evidence, taking witness testimony and in requesting information from various organisations. They further emphasised that they had been in contact with the victim and that she had expressed her desire to not release any more information to the public concerning the case. Officials said they would only be releasing pertinent information to the public, limited to “possible procedural events that could arise from the case (charges, indictments, or the arraignment).”
However, the victim's lawyer, José D'Antona, told the Intrusos TV programme on Thursday that he had heard of "six similar cases" in recent weeks, implying more would come forward to denounce allegations.
He said the incident had taken place where the young woman had worked, confirmed she was not underage at the time at the alleged incident and that the alleged assault did not involve penetrative sex or rape, implying the allegation was concerned alleged groping.
The claims against Axel, 42, seem to have been sparked by two incidents.
The first, a recent viral video, in which the "Te voy a amar" singer was recorded attempting to place his arm around 22-year-old singer and songwriter Tini Stoessel.
The footage shows her brushing his hand off of her shoulder in the middle of an interview, clearly uncomfortable. In the footage, recorded on a mobile phone during a TV programme that also featured stars Lali Espósito, Soledad Pastorutti and Luciana Pereyra, Stoessel appears uncomfortable when Axel places his arm across her back. After the video became quite public, however, the singer came out and said it was a misunderstanding.
Second, journalist Paula Galloni recently said she had been put in an “awkward situation” with the singer more than a decade ago, when he attempted to kiss her aggressively after they finished an interview.
Axel, who has appeared as a coach on La Voz, Argentina's version of The Voice, has remained silent since the allegations against him arose.
Last weekend, he cancelled a planned show in Córdoba, as news and rumours began to emerge.