May 31, 2011 / 9:06 AM / 9 years ago

German court acquits TV celebrity after rape trial

MANNHEIM, Germany (Reuters) - A celebrity weatherman was acquitted of rape charges Tuesday, judges said, after a high-profile trial that captivated the attention of the German media and public over the last year.

Swiss meteorologist and TV weather host Joerg Kachelmann sits in a car as he arrives for the verdict of his trial at the country court in Mannheim May 31, 2011. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Joerg Kachelmann, a 52-year-old public TV network weatherman, had denied the charges by state prosecutors that he raped his ex-girlfriend, 37, at knifepoint in February 2010 just before flying to Canada to work at the Vancouver Olympics.

Kachelmann, a Swiss national, was arrested at Frankfurt airport leading to a case that stunned Germany more than a year before former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested at a New York airport and later charged with trying to rape a hotel maid.

Details of Kachelmann’s private life have filled newspaper columns and TV news broadcasts. Prosecutors had demanded a prison term for Kachelmann of four years and three months. His defence attorney argued it was consensual sex.

“There was no other verdict that this court could reach,” Kachelmann’s lawyer Johann Schwenn told reporters afterwards. “Herr Kachelmann has been treated in a most shabby fashion.”

The rape trial of Kachelmann, Germany’s top weatherman and famed for his rumpled appearance and entertaining reports, had dominated the local media for the last nine months as it published salacious details of his tangled love life.

Kachelmann admitted he was not monogamous but denied charges he raped the 37-year-old radio host. But that failed to dampen the interest of the German papers and public over reports of his many girlfriends and his celebrity lifestyle.

Kachelmann said he had consensual sex just before the girlfriend discovered he was having an affair and ended their relationship. Prosecutors said Kachelmann raped her at knifepoint after she learned of the affair.

Newspapers and broadcasters published stories about Kachelmann’s double life and girlfriends — with some reports saying he was seeing 14 different women simultaneously.

Kachelmann became the country’s favourite weatherman in the last decade thanks to his light-hearted forecasts, wild neckties and unshaven appearance.

Reporting by Franz-Norbert Piontek; writing by Erik Kirschbaum; editing by Matthew Jones

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