The Nyarugenge Intermediate Court on Friday delivered a ruling in which renowned dancer and choreographer Thierry Ishimwe, commonly known as Titi Brown, was cleared of defilement charges he was facing.
In a verdict which was uploaded in the system earlier than the scheduled time, the Judge said that the allegations of rape filed against the dancer, who has been in jail for more than two years, are baseless, ordering for his immediate release.
The Judge also dismissed claims of compensation by the victim, identified by the initials ‘MJ’ as well as Ishimwe’s claim for compensation, concluding that both parties will not be compensated in any way.
Ishimwe’s lawyers demanded compensation from the victim’s family. Given Ishimwe’s estimated monthly income of approximately Rwf2 million, the defense sought Rwf44 million as compensation for the earnings he might have accrued since his arrest.
His case became a high-profile one after members of the public lodged an appeal for the dancer to be given a quick trial or bail after months of dragging on, keeping the popular dancer behind bars in Nyarugenge Prison, commonly known as Mageragere.
His case became concerning after it was revealed that forensic investigations done by Rwanda Forensic Institute (RFI) had exonerated Ishimwe from any wrongdoing because of the discrepancies in the DNA tests conducted, but his case could not take off, continuously attracting media and social media attention, including an appeal to grant the dancer bail as the hearing continued.
Members of the public were angered after the prosecution introduced new evidence, including a video depicting the alleged victim and Ishimwe together in a living room at the dancer’s residence. Ishimwe, however, maintained that he had never seen this video and suggested it might have been taken without his consent or manipulated to frame him.
Prosecutors also presented a psychological assessment report done by a clinical psychologist, which indicated that the victim had suffered from depression as a result of the incident and everything around it but Ishimwe’s defense questioned the validity of the report, asserting that it was performed years after the events and should therefore be disregarded.
Ishimwe consistently pleaded not guilty during the trial, insisting that the alleged victim had visited his place solely to inspect a dance studio he was planning to open. He maintained that she did not enter his house, and he denied any allegations of sexual assault or responsibility for her pregnancy.
He has been in detention since 2021 over allegations sexual assault, defilement and impregnating a 17-year-old girl. It later came to light that she had undergone an abortion because she was a minor.
Before his arrest, Ishimwe was a prominent figure in the music and entertainment industry. He featured in numerous music videos, including Bruce Melodie and Kenny Sol’s ‘Ikinyafu’ and was known for his contributions to choreography in the sector.