Life

This response to the Cristiano Ronaldo rape allegation is deeply troubling

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Susan Devaney
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Nike has said it’s “deeply concerned” by rape allegations against the footballer, while Juventus has praised his “dedication”. 

Earlier this week, Kathryn Mayorga – a former US teacher – took on one of world’s most God-like human beings: a famous footballer.

Mayorga alleges that Cristiano Ronaldo – arguably one of the most instantly recognisable sportsmen in the world – raped her in 2009 in a Las Vegas hotel penthouse suite.

In an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel last weekend she gave extensive details of her claims. Now, Ronaldo has 20 days to respond after Mayorga’s lawyers filed a lawsuit in a district court in Clark County, Nevada.

Ronaldo denies all allegations made against him, and has since taken to Twitter to protest his innocence.

“I firmly deny the accusations being issued against me,” Ronaldo wrote. “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.”

But, while Ronaldo continues to protest his innocence, Mayorga has had to leave Las Vegas to escape the attention surrounding the case. According to her lawyers, the alleged assault has caused her severe mental and emotional damage. 

During a news conference on Wednesday 3 October, Mayorga’s lawyers revealed that Mayorga decided to come forward because of the #MeToo movement.

“The #MeToo movement and the women who have stood up and disclosed sexual assaults has given Kathryn a lot of courage,” attorney Leslie Stovall said.

“She has decided not to make herself available to the media and stay out of the public because of her emotional state,” Stovall said. “It is not pleasant for her.”

Her lawyers also added that they had yet to decide whether or not to release documents relating to the case, including police reports, medical records and an out-of-court settlement. 

Now, EA Sports, Nike and Ronaldo’s football team Juventus, have all released statements relating to the case – and one is particularly troubling.

Sportswear brand Nike, which has a contract worth a reported $1bn (£768m) with Ronaldo, released a statement, saying: “We are deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations and will continue to closely monitor the situation.”

Meanwhile, EA Sports told the Associated Press: “We have seen the concerning report that details allegations against Cristiano Ronaldo.

“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, Juventus – the Italian club Ronaldo currently plays for – has defended the player on Twitter.

“Cristiano Ronaldo has shown in recent months his great professionalism and dedication, which is appreciated by everyone at Juventus,” the club wrote. 

It’s a story we’ve seen played out in the public eye, time and time again. 

Just a few months ago, the Ulster rugby trial confirmed women’s worst fears about reporting sexual assault – especially when it involves publically highly praised sportsmen. The rape case – involving Paddy Jackson, Stuart Olding, Blane McIlroy and Rory Harrison – all Ulster rugby players, were found not guilty of raping a young woman at a house party in Belfast on 28 June 2016.

The two aforementioned men, Jackson and Olding, were acquitted of rape while two others, McIlroy and Harrison, were acquitted of exposure and perverting the course of justice, respectively.

And the anonymous woman? Her identity was illegally exposed on social media by a male juror.

And then there was the Ched Evans case. Evans, a well-known footballer, was accused of alleged rape in 2012 by a young woman. Evans spent two and half years in jail, but was then acquitted of the crime four years later. He’s currently playing for Sheffield United

And the anonymous young woman? Her name was illegally exposed over social media platforms – because how dare she accuse Ched Evans, a footballer, of such a thing? She should have worn trousers, not a skirt. She should have drank water, not alcohol. She should have stayed silent.

In 2016, Brock Turner, a young student and promising swimmer at Stanford University, was sentenced to six months in jail (with probation) for sexually assaulting a young woman on campus

News outlets described Turner as an “all-American swimmer”, while the victim, as she recalled in her open letter, was described as an “unconscious intoxicated woman, 10 syllables, and nothing more than that.”

And what about the American boxer Mike Tyson? In 1991, Tyson was convicted of raping an 18-year-old woman. He was sentenced to four years in prison – but served three. His international boxing career resumed, remaining a household name – even securing parts in films such as The Hangover, Ip Man 3 and China Salesman

Similarly, Kobe Bryant – a famous basketball player – was accused of raping a woman in 2003.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Bryant “first said no sex had taken place, then said it had, saying repeatedly he thought it was consensual”. However, blood stains were found on both the victim’s clothing, and Bryant’s.

The case never went to court as the accuser decided to drop the charges, but Bryant’s career stayed in tack. And earlier this year, he scooped an Oscar for the Best Animated Short

It takes an exceptional woman like Kathryn Mayorga to take on one of world’s most God-like human beings: a famous footballer. And it would be even more exceptional if her story had a different ending to the other women who’ve been just as brave before her.

Images: Getty 

If you have been subject to sexual assault, call 999 to report it to police.

Information and support can be found at nhs.uk, gov.uk and rapecrisis.org.uk.