Last year, world famous footballer Cristiano Ronaldo was the subject of a story released by German news outlet, Der Spiegel, in which he was accused of raping a woman eight years ago in a Las Vegas bar. According to the article, the incident occurred on June 13, 2009. The woman in question chose to remain anonymous using the pseudonym Susan K. We now know this woman as Kathryn Mayorga; she publicly came out recently as the woman levying these accusations against the Portuguese superstar.
The time delay from the incident and Mayorga’s desire to remain anonymous resulted in the story gaining little traction from mainstream media. However, in the past month, Ms. Mayorga has publicly come out and new documentation of a nondisclosure agreement signed in 2010 has surfaced. Legal papers indicate a nondisclosure agreement of $375,000 in 2010 was paid out to Ms. Mayorga by Ronaldo and his lawyers in exchange for her silence. This ensured Ms. Mayorga would not pursue formal charges against Ronaldo. However, Mayorga claims at the time she was “terrified of retaliation” and of “being publicly humiliated.”
The resurgence of the story has put the Portuguese footballer under fire. With Ronaldo’s fame and popularity, he seems virtually untouchable. Not only does has he played for the biggest clubs in Europe, but also has one of the largest social media followings in the world. This did not stop Mayorga, who said she publicly accused him because she was inspired by the #MeToo movement.
Ronaldo has vehemently denied all accusations, leaving some to question the validity of Mayorga’s claims. After the story resurfaced, Ronaldo, on multiple platforms and occasions, has continued to proclaim his innocence. He has said the allegations against him are “fake news.”
Ronaldo also tweeted, “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.”
Despite these denials, there is documentation of the non-disclosure agreement between Ronaldo and Ms. Mayorga months after their encounter. Additionally, The International Business Times reported, “Ronaldo has reportedly spent about a million dollars to put together a team with a forensic expert, a former police officer and a public relations officer.” Ronaldo’s financial commitment to his defense and his continuous denials indicate that he is prepared to fight Mayorga’s allegations and, unlike years ago, not settle.
At the time of the alleged attack, Kathryn Mayorga was a model working at the nightclub, Rain, in Las Vegas. Confirmed by pictures of the two of them together, and by Ronaldo himself, Ronaldo and Mayorga were conversing throughout the night. Ronaldo also acknowledges that on that night, he and Mayorga did go back to a penthouse, and in the early hours of the following morning engaged in sexual relations. Ronaldo, through his lawyer Christiansen, claims that the sexual relations were “completely consensual.”
Mayorga’s side of what happened at the penthouse is much different. She said their sexual relations were not, by any standards, consensual; Ronaldo raped her. Soon afterwards, Ms. Mayorga went to the Las Vegas Police Department to report the incident during which evidence was documented and photographed.
According to legal papers, “Cristiano Ronaldo pulled the plaintiff into a bedroom and on to a bed and attempted to engage in sexual intercourse.” Mayorga resisted Ronaldo, and screamed, “No, no, no.” Additionally, the papers state, “When Cristiano Ronaldo completed the sexual assault, he allowed her to leave the bedroom stating he was sorry, he was usually a gentleman.”
The most complicating matter of this case is the non-disclosure agreement Mayorga signed in 2010. The first step for her case against Ronaldo is getting the initial settlement of $375,000 invalidated, which will allow her to press formal charges. According to The Independent, this is Mayorga’s biggest legal obstacle. However, regardless of what happens with the non-disclosure agreement, this is likely to be a long drawn out process as witnesses will need to be called in for questioning and police have only just begun an investigation.
Historically, for world famous athletes like Ronaldo, the punishments often do not fit the crime. This is because of athletes’ ability to spend big on legal council coupled with the reality that victims are afraid of the attention their accusations tend to attract. Numerous athletes, primarily in American sports, seem to have gotten lighter punishments than deserved. A prime example is Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger who has been accused of sexual assault, but settled out of court, and was merely suspended for four games by the NFL. However, regardless of the outcome, Ronaldo will not come out of this unscathed. He is under pressure from numerous high-end brands and sponsors who use his fame and appearance to advertise their products.
With so much money invested in him and his products, Ronaldo is almost too famous to be guilty. He has a lifetime one-billion-dollar contract with Nike and is also on the cover of the one of the most popular video games in the world, FIFA 19. Millions of copies have already been distributed. Additionally, Ronaldo has his own personal products to worry about. His most notable personal product lines are his fragrance, underwear, and CR7 soccer cleats.
Ronaldo, whether convicted or not, has already suffered from the publicity Mayorga’s allegations have brought him. Nike and EA, the producer of FIFA 19, have begun to distance themselves, knowing how seriously their company names and sales could be damaged if the allegations are found to be true.
Nike released in a statement after the allegations saying, “We are deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations and will continue to closely monitor the situation.”
Additionally, EA sought to distance themselves from Ronaldo, saying “We are closely monitoring the situation, as we expect cover athletes and ambassadors to conduct themselves in a manner that is consistent with EA’s values.”
However, not all those associated with Ronaldo have done the same. Juventus, Ronaldo’s current club, back their superstar tweeting, “Cristiano Ronaldo has shown in recent months his great professionalism and dedication, which is appreciated by everyone at Juventus.” The tweet finished with, “The events allegedly dating back to almost 10 years ago do not change this opinion, which is shared by anyone who has come into contact with this great champion.”
Since the June night in 2009, Ronaldo’s and Mayorga’s lives have changed dramatically. For Ronaldo his life has gotten nothing but more lavish. He remains unmarried, but has four kids. Professionally, he has done quite well, moving from from Manchester United to Real Madrid and, most recently, to perennial Italian Champions, Juventus. Over the past 10 years, he has set new records, becoming the UEFA Champions League all-time top scorer and has won three Champions League titles in four years. He is also now one of the most popular athletes in the world, with over 121 million Instagram followers.
Mayorga on the other hand, like most people who have undergone traumatic events, has been greatly affected by this night. For her, over the past 10 years, she stopped modeling in order to become a teacher, only to quit after publicly accusing Ronaldo. Since that night, she has said that she suffers from clinical depression, PTSD, and has considered suicide. These types of trauma are not uncommon for people who have undergone such horrific events.
It is encouraging, however, that her accusations are being taken more seriously than the would have perhaps years ago. In response to her claims, the Las Vegas Police Department released the following statement: “As of September 2018, the case has been reopened and our detectives are following up on information being provided by the victim. This is an ongoing investigation and no further details will be released at this time.” As the investigation continues to unfold, Ronaldo will be called in for questioning, forcing him to face the seriousness of Mayorga’s accusations.