When the news of Cristiano Ronaldo’s rape accusations broke, the world – and not just the sports part of it – was in shock. A five-time Golden Ball winner and one of the greatest players in the history of the game has been accused by Kathryn Mayorga of rape.
Mayorga, a Nevada native, claims that Ronaldo raped her in Las Vegas and then tried to bribe her into silence, offering £375,000. Not only that, but she also says that he had tried, via his fixers, to obstruct the investigation into the case.
The star of Juventus and Portugal has fiercely denied the charges, saying that his “conscience is clear”, but the impact of the allegations is already being felt. His main corporate sponsor Nike has issued a statement in which they said “deeply concerned”, while Juventus shares took a nosedive on the market.
Allegedly, the rape happened in 2009. Ronaldo has just transferred from Manchester United to Real Madrid in a deal worth £80 million, one of the largest in history. The most expensive player in the world went to Las Vegas to celebrate, where he met Kathryn Mayorga in a nightclub. She claims that shortly afterward, he raped her in the hotel’s penthouse.
A decade later, she decided to speak up and file charges against the footballer. Her lawyers are trying to invalidate a non-disclosing agreement Mayorga signed in 2010, claiming that she was in no condition to make that decision rationally. According to a psychiatrist’s medical opinion, she was rendered “incompetent” by her psychological injuries suffered during the rape. They also claim that she was manipulated by Ronaldo’s fixers into accepting the deal and £375,000. Ronaldo’s lawyers don’t deny that the deal exists, but are saying that doesn’t prove anything and it isn’t an admission of guilt on the part of their client.
At the time of the incident, Kathryn Mayorga was 25 and an aspiring model. Der Spiegel says that “one of her jobs was to hang out with other young, beautiful women in front of bars to lure in guests.” On that night, she finished her job and went to Rain nightclub to party. That is where she met Cristiano Ronaldo.
Recently, she has been working as a teacher but has quit, saying that she needs all her strength for the upcoming legal battle. Her current whereabouts are unknown, as she is staying out of the media eye. She is being represented by lawyers from Stovall & Associates, a legal firm from Las Vegas.
Ronaldo has been adamant in claiming his innocence. In a recent tweet, he wrote: “I firmly deny the accusations being issued against me. Rape is an abominable crime that goes against everything that I am and believe in. Keen as I may be to clear my name, I refuse to feed the media spectacle created by people seeking to promote themselves at my expense. My clear conscious [sic] will thereby allow me to await with tranquillity the results of any and all investigations.”
His team, Juventus, have shown full support for their start player, recently acquired from Madrid. Ronaldo’s sponsor remained worried though, and both Nike and UNICEF have stated their concern for the future of the case. If even a hint of impropriety can be uncovered, both organizations may very well terminate their cooperation with the player.
His lawyer, Peter Christiansen, claims that documents allegedly proving Ronaldo’s guilt are doctored: “The documents that allegedly contain statements by Cristiano Ronaldo and were reproduced in the media are pure inventions.” He maintains that: “What happened in 2009 in Las Vegas was completely consensual.”
Mayorga claims that the rise of #MeTwo movement has encouraged her to come forward and press charges. However, her case may never see a courtroom, unless she can convince the Las Vegas court that the non-disclosure agreement she signed in 2010 is invalid. While this may be an uphill battle, as courts are usually reluctant to invalidate NDS agreements, according to Michael McCann, an associate dean at the University of New Hampshire School of Law and legal analyst for Sports Illustrated, they may look at Mayorga’s case favorably. There are several reasons for this.
“The first rationale Mayorga cites is her lack of capacity to enter into a binding contract,” he says. “The second rationale … is undue influence and duress” while the third “is her contention that Ronaldo fraudulently procured the settlement.”
Ronaldo’s lawyers will counter these arguments with their own.
“In the coming weeks, attorneys for Ronaldo will answer the complaint and in doing so almost certainly deny the core allegations,” says McCann. “Thereafter the legal process will proceed and attorneys for Ronaldo will argue the case should be dismissed.”
Las Vegas police have reopened an investigation into the alleged sexual assault and this is where the greatest danger lies for Ronaldo. If they manage to find enough evidence to indict him, the situation will change dramatically. However, this is unlikely to happen for a 9-years old case. Still, even the fact that they have reopened the case should be enough to put Ronaldo and his lawyers on alert. The reasons behind the decisions are unclear at the moment, but it would hardly be something inconsequential. Perhaps the police do have something that will help them bring Ronaldo up on charges. Until they announce that, he will remain out of their reach.
“Ronaldo has leverage in terms of cooperation [with the police] because he cannot be compelled to appear in Las Vegas at this point,” McCann told in an interview to The Independent. “If he cooperates he might only agree to do so by video conference and by answering questions in writing. He might also be willing to share electronic evidence.
“If he doesn’t cooperate, the police could take a negative inference from his lack of cooperation,” he adds. “That doesn’t mean he would be charged with a crime, but lack of cooperation can make law enforcement more suspicious about a person.”