The Las Vegas Police Department has reopened an investigation into an alleged 2009 sexual assault of a woman who claims in a lawsuit that the perpetrator was Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo, both the Associated Press and USA Today reported Monday.
In her lawsuit, Kathryn Mayorga alleges that Ronaldo sexually assaulted her in a Las Vegas hotel room and that his legal team coerced her into signing a 2010 nondisclosure agreement in an out-of-court settlement in exchange for $375,000. (The Washington Post does not generally name alleged victims of sexual assault, but received permission from Mayorga’s attorney allowing her identity to be revealed.)
“They developed a strategy that took advantage of her emotional state,” Mayorga’s attorney, Leslie Mark Stovall, told the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel in a lengthy story that was published Friday, adding that his client was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and clinical depression as a “direct and exclusive consequence of Mr. Ronaldo’s sexual assault perpetration.” Stovall said Mayorga has a learning disability that prevented her from being able to recognize the consequences of the nondisclosure agreement, rendering it voidable, and that the settlement documents “are evidence of a criminal conspiracy to conceal and obstruct the prosecution of that sexual assault.”
Mayorga told Der Spiegel that she was inspired by the #MeToo movement to come forward. In her lawsuit, she also contends her attorney in 2009 failed to provide her with adequate representation during the negotiations with Ronaldo’s legal team.
Ronaldo, 33, is considered a generational soccer talent; he transferred to Italian club Juventus from Spanish titan Real Madrid this summer. At the time of the alleged sexual assault, on June 13, 2009, he had just moved from English Premier League club Manchester United to Real Madrid for a 94 million euro transfer fee, a world record at the time. On Friday, he denied committing the sexual assault and attacked the Der Spiegel story in an Instagram Live video.
“No, no, no, no, no. What they said today, fake, fake news,” he said. “You want to promote by my name. It’s normal. They want to be famous to say my name. Yeah, but it’s part of the job, I’m a happy man, and all good.”
On Wednesday, Ronaldo denied the allegations in a pair of tweets, writing that he refuses “to feed the media spectacle created by people seeking to promote themselves at my expense” and that he will “await with tranquility the results of any and all investigations.”
The Las Vegas Police Department has not named Ronaldo as a subject of its reopened investigation, saying only that it is responding to a request for further investigation by Mayorga and her attorney. Nevada recently changed its law regarding the statute of limitations in sexual assault cases, according to Sports Illustrated legal expert Michael McCann, lengthening it from four to 20 years.
“I have been asked to comment on the recent statement by Cristiano Ronaldo that Mayorga’s claims are ‘fake news,’ ” Stovall said in a statement when asked to respond to Ronaldo’s “fake news” comment. “Mayorga’s filed complaint, the physical evidence of her sexual assault, answers to written questions regarding the sexual assault attributed to Cristiano Ronaldo, the communications and conduct of the ‘team’ representing Cristiano Ronaldo, the circumstances surrounding the purported agreement for settlement and non disclosure, and the psychological injuries suffered by Mayorga are not ‘fake news.’ ”
According to the lawsuit, Mayorga — 25 at the time — and a friend were at the Rain nightclub at the Palms Casino Resort when they encountered Ronaldo, who invited them to his penthouse suite at the hotel, where she claims he raped her. After contacting police the next day, she went to a hospital and underwent a medical examination. Eventually, she declined to press charges, with the Las Vegas police saying in a statement Monday that she “did not provide detectives with the location of the incident or suspect description.” Mayorga, however, contends in her lawsuit that both a nurse at the hospital and a Las Vegas police detective discouraged her from filing charges against Ronaldo because of his fame. On Monday, the department said it still has the evidence obtained from its initial investigation, and that DNA still can be extracted from the rape kit obtained during her hospital examination.
In her lawsuit, which was filed in Clark County District Court, Mayorga is seeking damages of at least $200,000 in general, special and punitive damages for battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, coercion and fraud, abuse of a vulnerable person, racketeering and civil conspiracy, and defamation, among other charges.
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