Belgian artist Jan Fabre given 18-month suspended sentence for harassing dancers

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Belgian artist and choreographer Jan Fabre, one of Europe's most celebrated and controversial contemporary artists, was given an 18-month suspended sentence on Friday after being convicted of sexually harassing and assaulting dancers.

Prosecutors had sought a three-year custodial sentence for the 63-year-old, but the court in Antwerp ruled that half of the alleged incidents had not been proven or happened too long ago.

In all, Jan Fabre was found guilty in six cases.

Twelve former members of Fabre's Troubleyn dance company had complained of sexual harassment at work and one of them alleged an indecent assault.

The allegations relate to incidents going back to 2002, but came to light in 2018 with the #metoo movement, a global effort to empower victims of sexual abuse and harassment to speak out.

Fabre did not attend the trial nor the sentencing.

In March, during the trial, several dancers portrayed Fabre as a tyrant during rehearsals, describing "a toxic working universe" involving the humiliation of cast and company, and sometimes blackmailing women into sex.

Some complained that they had been tricked into taking part in erotic photography sessions under the pretext that they would appear in artistic magazines.

Fabre's defence counsel admitted that he was a strong and anarchic character, saying that working with him was "to give 100 percent" in gruelling performances ending in "real exhaustion, real emotions".

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