The self-described misogynist influencer is now being investigated for human trafficking in continued form, prosecutors said. His brother, Tristan, and two female Romanian suspects are also being probed for the same crime—which is considered a more severe offense than the human trafficking charge initially filed against them, a spokesperson for Romania’s DIICOT anti-organized crime prosecuting unit said.
A new victim was also added to the case, which originally began with six women, the spokesperson added.
All of the suspects deny the allegations against them, which also include suspected rape and forming a criminal organization to exploit women. The four were detained in Bucharest in December and held in custody until March 31, and have since been released to house arrest pending an investigation into their alleged wrongdoing.
The case has not yet gone to trial, but prosecutors are expected to commit them to trial sometime later in June.
Lawyers representing the Tate brothers said the changes to the charges on Tuesday were in the suspects’ “legal interest.” “The legal framework has been revised and altered to ensure an impartial investigation is upheld,” the brothers’ legal team said in a statement, according to Reuters.
DIICOT prosecutors on Tuesday also announced the launch of a separate criminal investigation against a Romanian man, Vlad Obuzic, also on allegations of human trafficking and forming a criminal group to sexually exploit seven women.
Obuzic, who is close to the Tate brothers and has appeared alongside the pair in photos posted on his social media channels, has been accused by prosecutors along with two others of preying on women by pretending to want to be in a relationship with them.
The alleged victims would then be coerced into making porn, with prosecutors saying the suspects would pocket the resulting profits. “To ensure the victims’ loyalty and that they will perform only to the benefit of the members of the group, they were forced to tattoo the name or face of the group member exploiting them,” prosecutors said in a statement.
Tate, a 36-year-old British-American former kickboxing champion, has 6.8 million followers on Twitter. On Tuesday, he told his fans that the charges against him had been restructured “in a way that benefitted me massively because they dont have any evidence.” “They needed to do this to charge me with such a weak file,” he asserted. “Cant drop it now can they? Imagine the uproar.”
Last week, a British woman told the BBC that in 2014 Tate choked her without her consent during consensual sex to the point where she lost consciousness, and that he had later threatened to kill her. He denied the woman’s accusations.