BERLIN—Glamour model and reality-TV star Gina-Lisa Lohfink became the most conspicuous player in Germany’s “Nein heißt Nein”—no means no—movement last summer. But now she has a €20,000 fine to pay for making what the court concluded was a false rape accusation against two men.
Her case, which served as the hook for extensive press coverage of the campaign to reform Germany’s retrograde sexual-assault law, has fascinated the country so much that she will soon be appearing on that last-resort TV show for broke might-have-beens, the German version of I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here, otherwise known as “Dschungelcamp” (Jungle Camp).
Three weeks ago, former club promoter Sebastian Pinto, one of the men she accused, got an injunction to stop Lohfink from talking about him in public. “You try spending two years without a job, while having to pay rent, having to pay lawyers, and having to read in the papers every day that you are a rapist,” Pinto told The Daily Beast.
The origins of this case go back to 2012, when Pinto was hosting a party at a nightclub in Berlin. Pardis Fardjad-Azad, an aspiring soccer star, was there. So was his date, Gina-Lisa Lohfink, whose then biggest claim to fame was coming in at 12th place on Germany’s Next Top Model.
They all got to hang out in the VIP section and Champagne was on the house.
The nightclub, Maxxim, has an reputation for post-midnight brawling and allegations that it opens its doors to 14-year-olds tottering in high heels. And Pinto likes to brag about all the action he, personally, has seen. At one point, showing real class, he told Lohfink’s lawyer, “I’ve slept with 500 women and you are dragging up the three who complained.”
In any case, that night in 2012, Pinto went back his apartment first, then Lohfink and Fardjad-Azad joined him an hour later.
What remains of that night is to be found online—a 28-second video in which Pinto, from behind the camera, mutters, “Fuck her,” as Fardjad-Azad has sex with Lohfink on the couch, then tries to put his penis in her mouth. “Stop it,” she says several times.
The next day, Pinto and Fardjad-Azad tried to sell some grainy cellphone recordings they’d taken of Lohfink to the German tabloids, which declined.
“I messed up, I like you so much,” Fardjad-Azad then texted Lohfink—right after he published the clips himself online.
A week after the footage went viral, Lohfink told police that she’d had a blackout after leaving the club. She suspected that someone had spiked her drink. Watching the video, Lohfink stated, reminded her of what happened; that Pinto and Fardjad-Azad had raped her.
“This isn’t me,” she reportedly told her lawyer. “This is a totally different Gina-Lisa.”
Not in the eyes of the judiciary, it would seem.
When State Attorney Corinna Gögge first watched the 28-second tape in 2012, she recognized a possible crime. After investigating the other evidence at hand, however, Gögge dismissed the possibility of sexual assault: Lohfink’s lawsuit against Pinto and Fardjad-Azad for rape was called off and, in 2015, Lohfink received a penalty order for what in Germany is called “false reason for suspicion.” But Lohfink refused to pay the €24,000 fine, so the case against her went to trial this summer, where she was found guilty once again and fined €20,000.
Subsequent footage entered into evidence had showed Lohfink arguing with Pinto about putting the camera away, joking, and dancing around the apartment, rather than screaming, “Help” and “Police,” as she said she did. And that led the court to conclude that Lohfink’s “Stop it” in the viral video was directed at the filming, not the sex, which was ruled as consensual.
Moreover, when people get doses of Rohypnol, “they can’t dance, smoke, and speak. They can’t call their manager and eat pizza,” according to the court’s toxicologist—all things that Lohfink allegedly did on camera.
In the written verdict that was released last month, Judge Antje Ebner concluded that Lohfink falsely accused Pinto and Fardjad-Azad because she “desired revenge.”
Lohfink had reported a rape where, apparently, there was none.
And that was quite a shock for those who had made of the celebrity a cause célèbre.
Lohfink’s trial had begun in June—at a time when several politicians were campaigning to reform Germany’s relatively backward law on sexual violence, so that saying “No!” to sex would be enough to file rape charges if that didn’t stop the act.
When Lohfink was pronounced guilty in court this August, the 29-year-old stomped out of the courtroom. Women booed the verdict and walked out after her in solidarity. Outside, a rally was happening. Demonstrators stood with their arms crossed before their chests. Some of them held up signs in English reading, “No means No, against the sexist status quo.“
“The case was all over the media,” Green Party politician Gesine Agena explains. “Because she says, ‘Stop it’ in the video, and there was the campaign for ‘no means no,’ these two things fell together automatically—we had to say something about it.”
The scenes were a far cry from the apathy and mockery that greeted Lohfink’s initial rape accusation or Gögge’s penalty order against her.
In 2013, the German rap crew K.I.Z., which is popular in Berlin’s ultraliberal circles, dissed Lohfink with the lyrics “Check out my Sex Tape with Gina Lisa from the back/ BAM.” In clubs and house parties, carefree hipsters sang along.
“Four years ago, no one knew who she was, and now, through all these lies, she’s gotten really famous,“ Pinto tells The Daily Beast. “She’s going to be on Dschungelcamp but she’s not allowed to talk about me on it either. If she does, I’ll sue her and RTL [the TV show’s broadcaster].“
Kristina Lunz is a women’s rights activist. She also campaigned for the new sexual-assault law. She tells me that watching the 28-second Lohfink clip made her feel furious, but her reason is a different one.
“Sometimes during sex, you are not sure if you actually want something, or if you are doing it because the guy wants you to. What you can definitely see in the clip is that the guys are trying to break the will of Lohfink and enact their own pornographic rape fantasies,” she tells The Daily Beast.
Sebastian Pinto seems like a solid spokesperson for the kind of value system that makes men secretly turn a sexual encounter with a woman into a porn video. (Lohfink knew she was being filmed, but not that the video would be posted on a popular porn site: “a humiliation clicked a million times,” as Der Spiegel put it.) The 33-year-old Pinto is currently trying to make it as a rapper. His new album is coming out in January on a big European record label, he says, but he won’t tell us which.
One track includes lyrics like, “I’m in the media again / cause I always stand up for myself,“ and “Paris Hilton gets rejected / Gina-Lisa got to get it.” He posted this track on his Facebook page on Lohfink’s birthday, under the hashtag: #Blahmeansblah.
And Pinto hasn’t been the only one to get airtime off the Lohfink sex tape.
The German poultry brand Wiesenhof released an advertisement several months ago in which aging TV comedian Atze Schröder holds a long bratwurst in front of the camera, making phallic allusions and jokes, “After this, Gina and Lisa will need trauma therapy.”
Schröder apologized when the clip was withdrawn, but he seemed taken aback. The advert, he explained, “was made one year ago“—before the reality star’s rape claim was seen as more than just cannon fodder for Germany’s often cringe-worthy entertainment industry.