Ex-JLS star Oritse Williams cleared of Wolverhampton rape charge
Former JLS popstar Oritse Williams has been cleared of raping a fan in a hotel room in Wolverhampton.
The singer smiled and clasped his hands together as jurors sealed his fate on Tuesday, breathing a deep sigh of relief as he left the dock.
It came after a jury of four men and eight women unanimously found him not guilty of raping the woman following almost two hours and 20 minutes of deliberation at Wolverhampton Crown Court.
Tour manager Jamien Nagadhana also nodded his head in gratitude and embraced a loved one in the courtroom when jurors unanimously cleared him of two counts of sexually assaulting the same woman.
Prosecutors had alleged that Williams - who refused to speak to reporters following his aquittal - and Nagadhana, both 32, attacked the woman in the room they were sharing at Ramada Park Hall Hotel three years ago.
From VIP section to hotel
The woman, described as “zombified” by hotel staff, had caught Williams’ attention at Gorgeous Nightclub, where he performed debut single Waterline.
During the trial, jurors heard the woman and her two friends decided to snap photos with Williams “for a joke” after watching him perform in December 2016.
Williams spotted the women after they came to the VIP section and asked for drinks, with the singer inviting the trio to enjoy the free alcohol.
Conversations became “flirtatious” before the women began dancing provocatively in front of him, Williams told jurors.
Giving evidence during his nine-day hearing, Williams said: “It did make me excited, I was loving it. You don’t forget three girls grinding on you at the same time. The girls started putting on this highly sexually charged display. It definitely caught my attention.”
All three women shared a taxi with Williams and Nagadhana to the Park Drive hotel but one went home after throwing up during the journey.
Williams, who admitted he is “easily affected” by alcohol, said the remaining two “giggly” women soon left his hotel room but the alleged victim returned alone and said she wanted to “spend the night” together.
The woman put her arms around his neck and kissed him at the door, with the pair then getting intimate on the bed – but they were forced to stop because of the effects of alcohol on him, he said.
Williams went on to say he “absolutely” did not rape the woman and said the sex was consensual.
'Taken advantage of'
The father-of-one, who told police he was an “ambassador for sexual health and safe sex”, denied the rape allegation when he was arrested just hours after sleeping with the woman.
In his interview with police, the 32-year-old said: “I am feeling bewildered at this whole thing. I do feel taken advantage of. I just feel like a musician, an artist that has been put into a position where they have been taken advantage of.”
Prosecutor Ms Miranda Moore QC said the women complained of feeling “drugged”, with one “blacking out” and another forced to go home after vomiting - but no forensic evidence from police to support these claims was presented in court.
Giving evidence from behind a screen, the alleged victim claimed she could remember “bits and pieces” of the night after downing Malibu, Sambuca and shots.
The woman, in her 20s, later told police that Williams “latched” onto her and her friends before inviting them back to his hotel room.
Ms Moore claimed the two women eventually left the room but the alleged victim returned alone to retrieve her lost phone, with Williams and Nagadhana attacking her.
Nagadhana, of Hounslow, West London, told jurors he initiated a threesome when Williams and the woman started having “cringey” sex next to him, but claimed she made “no objections”.
Williams, of Croydon, South London, rose to fame with boyband JLS, who were the runners-up on ITV’s The X Factor in 2008.
The Brit and Mobo award-winning group claimed five UK number one singles and five UK top 10 albums before splitting in 2013.
Praising Williams after the verdict, fellow ex-JLS singer Marvin Humes said: “Finally my brother. Three years of hell is over. No-one will ever know or imagine what he’s been through.
“I’m just so proud of the way he conducted himself during what has been the most awful time. He is so strong and I know he can’t wait to start his life again now. We love you O.”
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