Christoph Soeder / picture alliance / dpa
On Tuesday afternoon, Rammstein singer Till Lindemann posted a link on Instagram. It led to the press release of the Berlin public prosecutor's office. It announced that it had discontinued the investigation "on suspicion of committing sexual offenses as well as violations of the Narcotics Act" against the Rammstein singer. Lindemann wrote: "I would like to thank all those who waited for the end of the investigation with an open mind."
What does that mean? Why did the prosecutor's office make this decision? And shouldn't media like SPIEGEL have reported on allegations of sexualized violence against Till Lindemann? A classification.
Why did the public prosecutor's office investigate in the first place?
At the end of May, Irishwoman Shelby Lynn accused her of having been given drugs in her drink during a Rammstein concert on social networks. She reported memory lapses, posted photos of injuries to her body. In addition, an employee had brought her into a small room during a break in the performance, apparently to have sex with Lindemann. Lindemann had accepted her no. Rammstein and Lindemann dispute Lynn's descriptions.
The media then investigated these allegations and those of other women. Initially, the research network of NDR, WDR and »Süddeutsche Zeitung« reported, a little later the »Welt am Sonntag« and SPIEGEL.
The allegations were about a perfidious casting system around the band, which apparently served to provide lead singer Lindemann with women for sex. It was about alcohol and loss of control and the question of whether Lindemann had abused his power over younger, female fans.
Based on the media reports, third parties who did not make their own allegations reported Lindemann. It is unclear who these people are. In mid-June, it became known that the Berlin public prosecutor's office had launched an investigation.
Why was the investigation dropped?
The public prosecutor's office said that "the evaluation of the available evidence" had not yielded any clues. However, she also clarified that her evidence was mainly the media reports. After all, not a single woman who accuses Lindemann of sexualized violence could be questioned by the investigators. They spoke exclusively with journalists, according to the prosecutor's office.
In fact, the public prosecutor's office had asked the media to name the names and addresses of sources, including SPIEGEL. For reasons of source protection, we have rejected it with reference to our right to refuse to testify, as have the other media. However, we passed on the request of the public prosecutor's office to the informants with whom we were in contact.
In addition, according to their press release, the investigators read files on the case of Irishwoman Shelby Lynn and spoke with YouTuber Kayla Shyx, who had commented on the allegations in a video. She would not have been able to "describe her own experience of criminally relevant incidents". However, Shyx had never claimed that, but only described the casting system.
Regarding the case of a woman who allegedly entered into a sexual relationship with Lindemann at the age of 15 and about whom SPIEGEL reported, the public prosecutor's office writes that this witness also remained anonymous and "therefore could not be questioned." In her case, however, the public prosecutor's office had not even asked SPIEGEL.
If new evidence arises, the public prosecutor's office can resume the investigation at any time up to the statute of limitations.
Why didn't the women talk to the prosecutor's office?
There are many reasons why alleged victims of sexualised violence are more likely to talk to the media than to judicial authorities. Some are afraid. Because if they testify, their names will definitely end up in the files – and thus also with the other side. The law firm that hired Till Lindemann announced very early on that it would take action not only against the media, but also against the individual women who made allegations. Some cannot afford a lawyer to accompany them in a possible trial. And some fear the mental strain that can go hand in hand with processes that can take years.
Shouldn't the media have reported on it?
This conclusion cannot be drawn from the decision of the public prosecutor's office to discontinue the case. Their investigations were about criminal law, journalistic texts must meet media law criteria. It is the task of journalists to investigate indications of alleged misconduct – regardless of whether there are already legal proceedings or even a verdict.
This applies to corruption or white-collar crime as well as to abuse of power or sexualised violence. If there is sufficient reliable evidence, it can be reported as part of a suspicious activity report – you can read more about it here.
Whether the requirements for the admissibility of such reporting were also met in every respect in the Rammstein case is currently being disputed in the civil courts. SPIEGEL is also currently prohibited from making individual statements for which the Hamburg Regional Court sees no sufficient basis for suspicion. However, the core accusation of a perverted groupie casting system is unaffected by the omissions.