Just hours after news broke that JLS singer Oritsé Williams has been charged with rape, his former bandmate, Aston Merrygold has taken to Instagram to insist they are “family”.
Aston, 30 – who shot to fame alongside Oritsé in 2008 on The X Factor – posted a throwback picture of the group auditioning for the talent show.
He captioned it: “These 3 guys… The nicest, most humble, caring, selfless, hardworking (I could go on..) people I’m lucky enough to call family!”
He added: “No matter what we are brothers like it or not! And we stand in each other’s corner 🙌🏽🖤”.
His 284k followers were divided by the post.
Many seemed upset, with one commenting: “Victim blaming at its best.”
Another wrote: “He has been charged! Meaning there’s enough evidence for conviction.”
Others agreed with Aston’s sentiment, writing: “Innocent until proven guilty. A charge isn’t a conviction.”
Another added: “I met and worked with all members of JLS. My lasting impression was of four very polite, humble and respectful young men. Regards to you all.”
Fellow bandmates, Marvin Humes and JB Gill have yet to comment, however Marvin’s wife did reply ‘always’ to Aston’s post, while Alexandra Burke wrote ‘Amen’.
It follows Thursday evening’s news that Oritsé has been charged with raping a 20-year-old fan.
The alleged sexual assault happened in 2016, after the 31-year-old JLS singer performed a gig in Wolverhampton.
Oritsé was initially arrested on 2 December 2016, and bailed twice.
The singer has now been charged, along with his friend Jamien Nagadhana.
On Thursday evening, West Midlands Police stated: “Police have charged two men with sexual offences following an allegation of rape at a Wolverhampton hotel in December 2016.
“Oritsé Williams, aged 31, from Croydon, London, has been charged with rape. Jamien Nagadhana, aged 31, from Hounslow, London, has been charged with assault by penetration.”
The incident is alleged to have taken place after a performance at the Gorgeous Club in Wolverhampton. The alleged victim and her female friend reportedly spent time at the Ramada Park Hotel with Oritsé and one of his friends.
At the time, the reality star’s management issued a statement in which he denied any wrongdoing.
They told The Mirror: “Oritsé denies the allegations against him.
“The matter is in the hands of the police and it would be totally wrong for us to comment any further.”
Oritsé is yet to comment on the charge. Both men will appear in the dock on 11 October at Walsall and Aldridge Magistrates Court.