A couple weeks ago, German paper Der Spiegel released a report that claimed Cristiano Ronaldo had settled out of court with an American woman who alleged he raped her in 2009. Ronaldo’s camp issued a strong denunciation of the report, calling it “journalistic fiction” and denying any ties between the settlement documents recounted in the report and Ronaldo. Today, Der Spiegel has a new report which does not shed any new information on the rape allegation itself but does strengthen the ties between Ronaldo and the settlement.
This is how Gestifute, the sports agency that represents Ronaldo, addressed Der Spiegel’s report after it was published on April 14th:
The alleged victim refuses to be identified and corroborates the story. And the whole plot is based on unsigned documents and where the parties are identified by codes, in emails between lawyers who do not concern Cristiano Ronaldo and whose authenticity he does not know, and in a supposed letter that would have been sent by the putative victim, but Which he never received.
The main thrust of Ronaldo’s denial is that nothing in the documents used to inform Der Spiegel’s report tie Ronaldo directly to the settlement. Der Spiegel’s newly released information calls those denials into question.
For this latest report, Der Spiegel got access to some text messages between Carlos Osório de Castro, Ronaldo’s long-time lawyer who was a signatory party on the settlement documents with Ronaldo’s accuser, and Ronaldo himself. The texts were sent on January 12, 2010, the same date that Ronaldo’s accuser and Ronaldo’s lawyers met in person with a mediator to agree on the terms of the settlement. The messages imply that Ronaldo was perfectly aware of the situation his lawyer was dealing with:
“The mediator now says that she [Ronaldo’s accuser] has broken out in tears and that she is shaken because she thinks you’re not interested in this matter and are someplace else altogether,” Osório de Castro wrote: “So far, there has been no talk about money, but that’s coming.”
Ronaldo answered, “OK.”
Forty-seven minutes after the first SMS, Ronaldo received a second message from Las Vegas. This time, it was just a number: “950,000 dollars.” It appears to be the sum that the counterparty was seeking in compensation. Ronaldo wrote back: “That’s the amount?”
Osório de Castro answered: “That is the first demand: That’s 660,000 euros. We won’t accept it. The negotiations are continuing.”
Ronaldo then asked: “Is that too much?” Osório de Castro replied: “I think so. I think we’ll close this for less.”
Ronaldo then demanded: “It has to be less!” His lawyer replied: “OK.”
The exchange of text messages between Ronaldo and Osório de Castro suggest that the settlement negotiations in Las Vegas were protracted. In one, he wrote to his client: “We are finally finalizing this after 12 hours for 260,000 euros. On top of that will be the costs for mediation that I already told you about, plus a few payments to the lawyers who are now trying to formalize the transaction. I know that is a lot of money, but I think it was the best way out — and it also wasn’t easy to get at all.”
Der Spiegel’s reporters were able to trace a $375,000 transfer—the amount stipulated in the settlement—as well as invoices from the law firms that worked on the case to two separate offshore bank accounts that, as the report puts it, “have administered Ronaldo’s earnings from advertising and sponsoring deals for years.”
In addition, Der Spiegel found a “Confidential Side Letter Agreement” in the documents they received that deal with the settlement. That agreement clarifies that two of the pseudonyms (“Topher” and “Mr. D”) that appear in the various settlement documents do in fact refer to Ronaldo. This agreement was signed by Ronaldo himself:
The report cites one exchange between one of the law firms that allegedly represented Ronaldo during the settlement talks and Osório de Castro in which the pseudonym “Topher” is used. These messages seem to confirm that Ronaldo was read the letter his accuser wrote him as terms of the settlement, and contradict Gestifute’s statement in response to Der Spiegel’s first article that claimed Ronaldo never received the letter:
“By my calculation,” one female lawyer wrote to her colleagues, “tomorrow is two weeks since the letter was delivered to you. Accordingly, please confirm if the letter has been read to Topher.”
An hour later, Osório de Castro answered: “I confirm that the letter has been read to Topher by me.”