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Germany gripped by celebrity weatherman rape trial

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Mon, 13 Sep 2010 15:47 GMT
Author: reuters
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By Erik Kirschbaum

BERLIN, Sept 13 (Reuters Life!) - The rape trial of a celebrity weatherman famed for his rumpled appearance and entertaining reports has the German media falling over itself to publish every salacious detail of his tangled love life.

ARD public TV network weatherman Joerg Kachelmann has denied charges that he raped a 37-year-old radio host, but failed to dampen the interest of the German papers, the public and a best-selling novelist in reports of his many girlfriends and busy celebrity lifestyle.

The 52-year-old Swiss national, who has already spent four months in jail, said he had consensual sex just before the unnamed girlfriend discovered he was having an affair and ended their relationship. Prosecutors said Kachelmann raped her at knifepoint after she learned of the affair.

"I did not have a knife and I did not commit a rape," Kachelmann said in a statement read out to the court at the start of the trial on Monday.

His lawyer told the trial that Germany's top weatherman will not testify in person against charges that he raped the girlfriend after a pasta dinner in her flat.

"He will not give testimony," Kachelmann's attorney Reinhard Birkenstock told the trial in the western city of Mannheim.

The case has attracted the attention of American novelist John Grisham, who was quoted in the German newspaper Berliner Morgenpost saying he could imagine turning it into a novel.

Grisham said he was fascinated by the question: "When and how a woman says no? When in a relationship does rape start?"

There has been a feeding frenzy in the German media over the case ever since Kachelmann was arrested in Frankfurt in March on rape charges upon returning to Germany from a stint in Vancouver doing weather forecasts from the Winter Olympics.

Newspapers and broadcasters have since published stories about Kachelmann's life and girlfriends -- with some media reports saying he was seeing 14 different women simultaneously.

"I was not monogamous in every phase of my life," Kachelmann told Der Spiegel news magazine in a July interview. "But that doesn't mean I committed a criminal act."

Kachelmann became the country's favourite weatherman in the last decade thanks to his light-hearted forecasts, wild neckties and unshaven appearance. His weather reports were often the most accurate and certainly the most entertaining.

After his arrest, celebrity magazine Bunte reported police had a list of 14 women who all believed they were Kachelmann's girlfriend. It said he gave them all the same name -- "Lausemaedchen" ("naughty girl") -- so he could send text messages and emails without changing the name.

(Editing by Paul Casciato)

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