Austria charges U.S. rapper Freddie Gibbs with sexual assault

VIENNA (Reuters) - U.S. rapper Freddie Gibbs has been charged in Austria with sexually assaulting a woman while on tour last year in Vienna, a court spokesman said on Wednesday.

Gibbs, 34, whose real name is Fredrick Tipton, has been remanded in custody in the Austrian capital following his extradition from France, where he was arrested in June.

The rapper, who is from Gary, Indiana and whose album Pinata was selected by several publications as among the best of 2014, denies any wrongdoing.

“He is alleged to have administered knock-out drops to a woman and then have abused her sexually while she was in a defenseless state,” a spokesman for Vienna’s criminal court said, referring to drugs used to spike a person’s drink.

The alleged incident occurred backstage in July last year.

Gibbs was charged on Tuesday with “sexual abuse of a defenseless or psychologically impaired person”, and if convicted faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, the spokesman said.

A Vienna-based lawyer for Gibbs, Thomas Kralik, said his client had neither abused nor had sexual contact with the woman, and that he had yet to be formally notified of the charge.

“He strenuously denies (the accusations),” Kralik said, adding that Gibbs also had nothing to do with the woman’s drink being spiked.

A U.S. lawyer for Gibbs, Theodore Simon, said in an emailed statement: “While Freddie Gibbs was charged with an offense today, it remains only an allegation, and it does not in any way change the actual facts that Freddie Gibbs is 100 percent innocent.”

Reporting by Francois Murphy; editing by Mark Heinrich