Germany's star TV weatherman charged with rape

19th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

Germany's best-known television weatherman was charged Wednesday with aggravated rape and grievous bodily harm for an alleged attack on his girlfriend, prosecutors said.

Joerg Kachelmann, a Swiss presenter beloved throughout the German-speaking world for his rollicking weather reports on public broadcaster ARD, stands accused of sexually assaulting his partner at knife-point.

The alleged victim, 36, had just ended her long-term relationship with the 51-year-old Kachelmann when he turned violent, the state prosecutor's office in the southwestern city of Mannheim said in a statement.

Authorities say Kachelmann attacked the woman in her apartment in February and held a kitchen knife with an eight-centimetre (three-inch) blade so firmly to her throat that she suffered cuts.

"He also threatened during and after the rape to kill her," according to the statement.

Prosecutors said they discovered DNA traces from Kachelmann and the victim on the knife and bruises on the woman's thighs.

A court must now decide if Kachelmann should be held in investigative custody until his case goes to trial. If convicted, he could face between five and 10 years in prison, a longer possible sentence than initially announced.

The weatherman has dismissed the case against him, which has been front-page news in Germany, as "baseless" and "a total fabrication."

The burly Kachelmann with his lilting accent has been a fixture on ARD newscasts since 2002 and has a major following for his fanciful descriptions of precipitation, clouds and the jet stream.

He became an Internet phenomenon last year when a large tabby cat wandered onto the set during a broadcast and he scooped it into his arms and continued his report. The broadcast drew more than 980,000 hits on YouTube.

ARD recruited him to its team covering the Winter Olympics in Vancouver in February, apparently soon after the alleged rape.

He was arrested at Frankfurt airport upon his return from Canada and has been in custody since then.

© 2010 AFP

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