Football star Cristiano Ronaldo faces Las Vegas rape probe
Police reopened the case saying it would follow up on information given by the victim
Las Vegas: The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said in a statement on Monday that it had reopened an investigation into a report of a rape of a woman who says her attacker was the football star Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Police Department, in response to queries from news organisations, issued the statement saying it was once again investigating the case and following up on information provided by the victim, although it did not name the woman or any suspect.
The woman, Kathryn Mayorga, filed a lawsuit against Ronaldo, the Portuguese star who plays for the Italian club Juventus, on Thursday in Clark County, Nevada. She said that she was paid $375,000 (Dh1.3 million) by Ronaldo to settle her claims and that she had signed a nondisclosure agreement.
A number of documents that Mayorga’s representatives say support her allegation have been published in the German magazine Der Spiegel. Ronaldo’s legal team called their publication “blatantly illegal.”
In a statement, Christian Schertz, a lawyer for Ronaldo, threatened Der Spiegel and any news organization that might repeat its reporting, citing Ronaldo’s privacy:
“The reporting in Spiegel is blatantly illegal. It violates the personal rights of our client Cristiano Ronaldo in an exceptionally serious way. This is an inadmissible reporting of suspicions in the area of privacy. It would therefore already be unlawful to reproduce this reporting. We have been instructed to immediately assert all existing claims under press law against Spiegel, in particular compensation for moral damages in an amount corresponding to the gravity of the infringement, which is probably one of the most serious violations of personal rights in recent years.”
Schertz did not directly challenge the rape allegation; Ronaldo called it “fake news” in an Instagram video.
Mayorga said the attack occurred early in the morning on June 13, 2009, in a suite in the Palms Place Hotel. Ronaldo, who was in the midst of a blockbuster transfer from Manchester United to Real Madrid, met Mayorga at a Las Vegas nightclub and invited her and others back to his suite.
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According to the lawsuit, Mayorga reported the assault to the police later that day and received a medical examination, during which evidence was collected in what is sometimes known as a rape kit. A Las Vegas police spokeswoman confirmed that Mayorga had filed a report on July 13, 2009 and was examined, but said she did not name the person who was accused. The case was reopened at Mayorga’s request last month.
Last year, Der Spiegel reported the existence of the settlement. The magazine had received documents – including an unsigned copy of the settlement and a six-page letter Mayorga wrote to Ronaldo as part of it – through Football Leaks, a WikiLeaks-like website that has publicly released scores of confidential soccer-related documents. Der Spiegel said they had repeatedly contacted Mayorga in advance of publication, but she refused to speak.
At the time, Ronaldo’s agency called the report “journalistic fiction” and threatened to sue Der Spiegel.
On Friday, Der Spiegel published a follow-up article, which was done with extensive participation from Mayorga and additional documentary evidence. She told Der Spiegel she was breaking her nondisclosure agreement because new lawyers she had hired did not believe it to be valid. She also said she had been inspired by the #MeToo movement.
The additional documents Der Spiegel obtained include the report from medical examination and correspondence between Ronaldo’s lawyers. The report says Mayorga was treated at the hospital for two hours, and that her injuries were photographed.
The correspondence between Ronaldo’s lawyers includes a questionnaire and answers submitted by Ronaldo, his brother-in-law and his cousin, who were with him on the night in question. According to Der Spiegel, there were multiple versions of answers to the questionnaire. In one, Ronaldo answered that Mayorga “said no and stop several times” and that “she said that she didn’t want to, but made herself available.” Those answers are not in later questionnaires.
Mayorga’s lawyer, Leslie Mark Stovall, cited his client’s legal complaint, physical evidence of assault, the questionnaire and settlement agreement as evidence that Mayorga’s claims were not “fake news.”
Stovall also vowed to “publicise how ‘fixers’ cover up and enable sexual assaults by the wealthy and famous.”