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One day after a Puerto Rican judge dismissed harassment claims against Latin superstar Ricky Martin, the 50-year-old singer made his first public showing on Friday night with an emotional concert at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.
"All I want is for you to forget all your issues tonight," said Martin to his fans at the Bowl. His husband, Jwan Yosef, and family members were seated in the front row. "Just focus on love and light and let's just have a good time."
Helmed by conductor Gustavo Dudamel, the L.A. Philharmonic supported the Grammy winner as he blazed through supersized renditions of his Latin pop hits, including "Livin' La Vida Loca," "María," "Vuelve" and "The Cup of Life."
The songs were interspersed with splashy orchestral interludes, which showcased Martin's roots in traditional flamenco, salsa and Puerto Rican heritage dances known as bomba y plena.
Friday's show came after a suspenseful two weeks in the news. On July 1, an anonymous petitioner filed for a civil protection order against Martin under Act 54, Puerto Rico's domestic violence law. In it, the petitioner claimed to have had an affair with Martin over the course of seven months. He also alleged that, upon ending the relationship, Martin called him frequently and loitered around his residence on three separate occasions, causing him to "fear for his safety."
Eric Martin, brother of the singer, later revealed the accuser to be Martin's 21-year-old nephew. Martin denied all claims.
On Thursday morning, ahead of a virtual court hearing in San Juan, "the petitioner ceased his claims voluntarily," a judicial spokesperson told the Associated Press. Because the protective order was issued through civil court, and not law enforcement, no criminal charges were filed against Martin. "The case was archived and no further procedures are required," added the spokesperson.
"This was never anything more than a troubled individual making false allegations with absolutely nothing to substantiate them," wrote Martin's lawyers in a statement. "We are glad that our client saw justice done and can now move forward with his life and his career.”
Although many Martin fans felt the gravity of the allegations, those at the Hollywood Bowl preferred to shout along to their favorite songs rather than speculate on what could have happened.
"It's been a tough week, but I just want to see him shine and be himself," said Melissa Morante, 33. It was her first time seeing Martin in concert.
"I trust him to do good in the world," said Morante's friend Iris, 33. "I remember him giving back a lot to Puerto Rico. He fought for gay rights in a time most people wouldn't."
"He represents Latinos really well," said longtime fan Liz Rios, 45, who first saw Martin perform with Menudo. "I wasn't worried about him at all."
In a videotaped statement published on Thursday, Martin said that he was prohibited from commenting publicly on the case prior to appearing before the judge. “I’m glad these claims were proven to be false," said Martin. "But I’m going to tell you the truth, it has been so painful. It has been devastating for me, for my family, for my friends. I don’t wish this upon anybody.”
Addressing his nephew, Martin said, “I wish him the best, and I wish he finds help so he can start a new life filled with love and truth and joy, and he doesn’t hurt anyone else.”
Martin will return for an encore at the Bowl on Saturday night.
“Now, my priority is to heal," said Martin. "How do I heal? With music."
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.