Amid Ronaldo’s Many Achievements, a Serious Rape Allegation Begs To Be Heard

From 2009 to the present, a timeline of the rape allegation against Cristiano Ronaldo.

Hot Take
7 min read
Amid Ronaldo’s Many Achievements, a Serious Rape Allegation Begs To Be Heard

(Trigger Warning: This article contains mention of rape and sexual assault)

Cristiano Ronaldo forged history yesterday by breaking the record for most goals scored by a player in international men’s football. His return to Manchester United has been received overwhelmingly by his humongous fan base. Throughout this, and many other glorious achievements spanning his almost 20-year-long career, some dark stories from Ronaldo’s past continue to loom in the background, making the headlines ever so often before being overshadowed by something that is presumably of greater importance.


June 12, 2009

24-year-old Ronaldo met Kathryn Mayorga, 25, at an exclusive club in Las Vegas called Rain. Hours later, they went to his suite in Palms Place Hotel, along with a few others for a hot-tub party. It is here that the model has alleged that he raped her. In documents accessed by German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, she has described the incident and said that she was changing when Ronaldo walked in on her and persuaded her to have intercourse.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Kathryn Mayorga.

(Photo Courtesy: Twitter)


June 13, 2009

Mayorga reported the incident to the police the very next day. In call records accessed by Der Spiegel, she talked about how she had been raped, but refused to reveal the identity of the accused, only saying that he was a “public figure” and an “athlete”. With her permission, she was taken to University Medical Center, where she underwent a “rape-kit”, a special test for sexual assault victims that records any evidence of rape-- medical or photographic. The test concluded that she had been penetrated. During the course of this whole reportage, she appeared in reports under a different name, Susan K., to conceal her identity.


September 2009

Kathryn’s lawyer, Mary Smith, contacted Ronaldo’s lawyer, Carlos Osório de Castro in Portugal through a forwarded mail and claimed she represented a plaintiff in Los Angeles involving a rape allegation against the player. Following this, a questionnaire was submitted to Ronaldo, his brother-in-law, and his cousin, who were also present in LA when the incident occurred. Der Spiegel claims that there are several different versions of answers to the questionnaire, one was submitted in September 2009, and the other in December 2009.

The September version is very crucial, since it has Ronaldo admitting that Mayorga “said no and stop several times.”

The questionnaire, where Ronaldo is referred to as Mr. X and Mayorga as Ms. C, had the same question in both instances-- “Did Ms. C ever raise her voice, scream, or yell?” In September, Ronaldo answers, “She said no and stop several times,” but goes on to change his answer in December to a simple “No.”

Two differing statements from Ronaldo from September and December 2009.

(Photo Courtesy: Der Spiegel)


According to the document, Ronaldo also revealed, “She said that she didn't want to, but she made herself available. But she kept saying 'No.' 'Don't do it.' 'I'm not like the others.' I apologized afterwards."


12 January, 2010

Kathryn’s complaint ended with a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) where Ronaldo paid her $375,000 to drop all criminal charges against him. Out-of-court settlements are common in cases of sexual assault since the case becomes a he said/she said situation and only depends on the testimony of both parties, where gathering factual evidence becomes difficult. This is also one of the main reasons she didn’t pursue her case until a few years later. When being approached by reporters in person or on call, she would avoid any interactions or refrain from giving any statements.


19 April, 2017

Through Football Leaks, a whistleblowing platform, Der Spiegel first reported on the existence of this NDA through the piece “Cristiano Ronaldo’s secret”. It talked about the trauma Mayorga went through following the rape, and how her new lawyer sought to declare the NDA void on the grounds that she was not psychologically competent to enter the agreement following the incident. The #MeToo movement also played a part and inspired Kathryn to reopen the case. It was not until later in September 2018 that Mayorga went public with her identity and decided to waive off anonymity.

When questioned about the rape charges, Ronaldo’s lawyers dismissed them as false and claimed that it was “a piece of journalistic fiction”. They reasoned this by saying that the documents accessed were unsigned and that the parties involved in it were not identified. The publication refuted these claims by providing pictures of Ronaldo’s name being used as an alias, “Topher” and his signatures on the document.

Documents revealing Ronaldo's alias "Topher"

(Photo Courtesy: Der Spiegel)


October 2018

The Los Angeles Police department reopened the rape case against Ronaldo, the BBC reported. Ronaldo denied these allegations and said that “rape goes against everything that I am and believe in.”

Ronaldo's statement following rape accusations.

(Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@Cristiano)


In 2019, Ronaldo and Juventus, the Italian football club he was now part of, were left out of the International Champions Cup, a high-profile summer tournament to eliminate the risk of Ronaldo being detained in LA for his rape allegations, according to The New York Times.

After Der Spiegel's claims, Ronaldo and his team repeatedly threatened to sue them, but never actually followed up on the threats. Previous claims by Ronaldo’s team that Der Spiegel was fabricating documents were given without any factual backing to support their case, and have also proven to be false. An investigative reporter at the magazine, Chritstoph Winterbach, explains in this thread defending the journalistic practices of the publication:


These inconsistencies in Ronaldo’s story, other rape allegations from 2005 when he was just 20 years old, along with the documents accessed by Der Spiegel make Kathryn’s case relatively stronger. And yet, on 22 July 2019, prosecutors from the US said that Ronaldo won’t be charged for rape since the allegations against him “cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Due to the public support that she has received, Mayorga has filed a civil lawsuit against Ronaldo on the grounds of being "mentally incapacitated" while signing the NDA in 2010. LA's Judge Jennifer Dorsey will preside over the case and come to a decision, but a date for the hearing has not been set as of now.


A Case that Fell on Deaf Ears

Elizabeth Farren, a lead organizer of the Women’s March movement in Rome, said the case “really has not made the kind of stir that you would think it would.” Jack Bell, a veteran journalist covering football for The New York Times also said he hadn’t heard anyone talk about the case and that “People want to avert their eyes and perhaps take the approach, ‘Let’s wait to see what transpires.’”

Nike and EA Sports both expressed their concern when the allegations first came out, but nothing seems to have changed for the player after that.

Perhaps the media is to blame for this too. In a very recent incident, Sky News shared the video of football pundit Jamie Carragher welcoming Ronaldo back to Manchester United. Sky News then proceeded to hide all comments that talked about Ronaldo’s rape allegations under the video.

Here are some comments calling out this move by Sky News:


From Fans to Rape Apologists

There is no denying the fact that football fans all over the world are very passionate about the sport, specifically fans of Ronaldo, one of the world’s best football players.

He is idolised among many and hailed by a huge fan following. But the fans’ reaction amid these rape allegations crosses the line of fandom and admiration and treads dangerously close to becoming rape apologists.

Some people have gone above and beyond to defend Ronaldo without knowing the specifics of the case, or even respecting the process of a lawful court proceeding.

Kathryn Mayorga has been called an “attention seeker” who “did this for fame” and a “gold digger”, completely turning a blind eye to the fact that she is a possible survivor. The lack of empathy displayed by some fans shows that they will defend their hero in any case, despite all the glaring evidence stacked against him.

What the fans above are doing is not defending a player they admire, they are invalidating the story of a possible survivor, and actively engaging in victim blaming. This allegation is not different from any other rape allegation, and to see the lengths that fans would go to unreasonably defend him shows just how harmful fan culture can be. Granted, many of these people are also trolls, but several are also die-hard fans whose love for Ronaldo has clouded their judgement and rationale to still see him as a possible rapist.

As anti-caste activist Sankul Sonawane very accurately points out, in the end, it is not Ronaldo who will see you unequivocally defend him, it is the women in your life who will see you side with a rape accused.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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