A domestic violence charity has condemned the “negligible” sentence handed to a founder of the American hip-hop group ASAP Mob after he sexually assaulted a woman at a hotel room in east London.
ASAP Bari, real name Jabari Shelton, 27, from Manhattan, New York, was fined £4,000 (€4,400) and told to pay £2,500 (€2,775) to his victim after he admitted assaulting a woman at the Curtain Hotel in Shoreditch.
Campaigners said the decision not to jail him showed the entertainment industry provided men with a “way of escaping” the consequences of abusing women.
Shelton pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to one count of sexual assault after a video emerged of him pulling the covers from the naked woman as she lay in bed then slapping her bottom as she told him to stop.
The fashion designer was also told to pay £2,000 (€2,200) costs and subjected to a restraining order banning him from contacting the woman or her parents unless through a solicitor regarding other proceedings.
Karen Ingala Smith, chief executive of the nia charity, a member of the Rape Crisis organisation, said: “Me Too highlighted sexual violence and abuse of women in the entertainment industry and this sentence illustrates that being part of that industry with its international remit provides men yet another way of escaping what many consider adequate accountability and penalty for the abuse of women.
“It also gives the message that for men of relatively high net worth, the price paid for sexual violence can be negligible.”
Shelton attacked the woman in the early hours of July 10 2017 when the pair met after they both attended the Wireless Festival music event in Finsbury Park.
He was initially arrested last year but bailed in June 2018 after he paid a cash security of £25,000 (€27,750) to allow him to return to the US, the court heard.
Sentencing him on Thursday, Judge Zoe Smith QC told him: “The court does have concerns in this matter because it has exposed a very unpleasant attitude by you towards women.”
She also said “there is no need to ever be so abusive and humiliating to a female”, adding: “No fine that I impose will compensate her for the humiliation that she has suffered.”
Prosecuting, James Lofthouse said Shelton had first approached his victim as she waited for a taxi after the festival.
Mr Lofthouse said: “He walked up to her and propositioned her, if I can put it that way. She said ‘no’.”
The court heard the woman later went to the Curtain Hotel with another man, named in court as AJ.
Mr Lofthouse went on: “She was then woken at around 4.30 or five in the morning, shortly after, by the defendant entering the bedroom.
“He seemed to react to her being present in bed with AJ.
“He pulled the duvet off and Your Honour has seen the footage of what occurred and indeed what was said.”
Shelton can be heard telling the woman: “Bitch, you f***ed my assistant, now suck my dick.”
Bari also said “Shut the f*** up bitch” after she told him to stop.
Mr Lofthouse said: “She then moved hastily towards the bathroom.
“He slapped her naked buttocks as she did so and she was saying ‘honestly, Bari, no stop’.”
Police were later called to the hotel and the woman initially denied she had been assaulted.
She reported the assault several days later when footage emerged online.
Mr Lofthouse added: “The defendant flew back to America later that same morning.
“However, about three to four days later she (the victim) became aware through her mother that footage had been circulating on the internet.
“It’s that footage we have seen in court. Following that she of course got back in touch with the officer.”
Shelton’s barrister, Gideon Cammerman QC, told the court his client had already spent seven days in custody after his initial arrest.
Mr Cammerman said: “The publicity that this case has attracted has already caused very significant financial loss to him, the loss of very significant contracts and other matters.”
He added: “In the current climate, publicity of this sort is quite rightly toxic.”
Bearded Shelton, who sported several tattoos across his shaved head, arrived at the court wearing a ski mask to shield his face and a designer padded jacket.
He stood in the dock wearing a black suit and white shirt without a tie, along with a pair of Nike trainers, and showed little emotion as he admitted the charge.
Mr Cammerman said footage of the attack was shared online by “somebody who wanted to do him harm and has”.