If you’re a causal soccer fan, you might not know that Cristiano Ronaldo has been accused of sexual assault by multiple women. That’s because social media is chock-a-block full of images glorifying Ronaldo, his stats, and his comparison to soccer’s other Goliath, Lionel Messi. Here are some posts about Ronaldo on Twitter just from today:
Head over to Ronaldo’s endless Wikipedia page, and you have to scroll all the way down, past “style of play,” “goal celebrations,” and “philanthropy,” to one of the very last headings, titled “Legal Issues.” Even that entry starts out talking about Ronaldo’s tax evasion case.
But Ronaldo has been accused of sexual assault by not one, but three different women. In 2005, two women came forward and alleged that Ronaldo and another man raped them in the penthouse of the Sanderson Hotel in London. As always seems to happen when a famous athlete is involved, especially back in 2005, the women eventually withdrew their allegations and the Crown Prosecution Service determined there was not enough evidence to move forward with the case.
A second woman accused Ronaldo of rape in 2009 and the allegation was investigated by the Las Vegas Police. The woman, who has since come forward as Kathryn Mayorga, subsequently wrote Ronaldo a letter, detailing her allegations against him.
“You jumped on me from behind,” the victim wrote in part, “with a white rosary on your neck!!” “What would god think of that!!!”
“What would god think of you!!!”
But Mayorga provided the press with more than just a letter. She also released a settlement agreement, in which Ronald appears to have paid her $375,000 in exchange for dropping the charges and agreeing not to speak about the allegations again. The agreement also requires Mayorga to repay the hush money if she ever violates the agreement, plus “damages” caused to Ronaldo’s reputation. While Ronaldo himself didn’t sign the settlement, his well-known lawyer, Carlos Osório de Castro, signed on his behalf. Included in the cache of documents was a sexual assault exam performed shortly after the incident, in which the police recovered samples of Ronaldo’s DNA.
By 2018, Mayorga was no doubt sick of watching the world glorify a guy who allegedly told her that he was a “good guy 99 percent of time” and buoyed by the #MeToo movement. Mayorga, who had reported her rape to Las Vegas police shortly after it occurred but declined to name her attacker, formally asked the department to re-open its investigation. The county eventually declined to prosecute the case.
After briefly filing a case in Nevada state court, Mayorga voluntarily withdrew the matter and refiled it in federal court. For his part, Ronald called the allegations “fake news” and his squad, Juventus, chose to tour Asia, instead of the United States, to avoid his being served with a legal summons.
After more than 10 years of hiding behind lawyers and conveniently remaining out of the country, Cristiano Ronaldo may have to finally face his accuser. On September 30, U.S. District Court Judge Jennifer Dorsey agreed to hear arguments on whether Mayorga, who is said to have learning disabilities and claims she was traumatized from the assault, was mentally fit to sign the settlement agreement. It remains to be seen if Ronaldo’s presence will be required in court, but the decision puts Ronaldo’s rape allegations front and center once again, and makes it harder for the international football PR machine to ignore.
Given that Ronaldo is now admitting that the settlement agreement with Mayorga is real, and knowing that Mayorga went to the police and submitted a sexual assault exam shortly after the event took place, it becomes harder and harder for even the most willfully blind super-fans to pretend none of this happened.