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Kehinde Wiley denies allegations of sexual assault

Kehinde Wiley at the US Department of State in Washington, D.C., 2015 © US State Department photo/public domain

Kehinde Wiley has been accused by British-born Ghanaian artist Joseph Awuah-Darko of sexual assault. He has strongly denied all allegations. The claims were published by Awuah-Darko in an Instagram post, which describes two encounters that took place at a dinner held in Wiley’s honour in 2021 by Ghana’s Creative Art Council at the Noldor Artist Residency. 

Awuah-Darko alleges that he was first assaulted by Wiley when the artist ‘inappropriately groped’ his buttocks while directing him to a bathroom. This was followed by a second assault that was ‘much more severe and violent’, according to his Instagram statement. Awuah-Darko gave further details to the New York Times in a telephone interview, describing how a sexual encounter that began consensually is alleged to have turned violent when it moved to a bedroom. He claimed that Wiley had forced himself upon him when Awuah-Darko had made it clear he did not wish to go further.  

Wiley has released a statement refuting the allegations on his own Instagram account, saying: ‘Someone I had a brief, consensual relationship with almost three years ago is now making a false accusation about our time together. These claims are not true and are an affront to all victims of sexual abuse.’

Awuah-Darko is an artist, musician and curator, as well as a collector of contemporary African and diaspora art. Los Angeles-born Wiley is a widely-known painter, best known for his 2018 portrait of Barack Obama.

No criminal charges have been filed against Wiley, while Wiley’s lawyers have sent Awuah-Darko a cease and desist letter demanding that the Ghanaian artist delete his Instagram post and refrain from releasing further statements against Wiley. 

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