Is Time Up for Ronaldo?

When German magazine Der Spiegel published an article in April of last year relating to Cristiano Ronaldo’s alleged rape of a woman, Kathryn Mayorga had nervously read through the reaction of the masses to the claim. The burden she had been carrying since the night of June 12, 2009, was meant to be hers and hers alone. Many were dismissive and cruel in response to the publication’s claims. “Why would Ronaldo need to rape a woman?” they said. “That’s what I thought” Mayorga told journalists when they interviewed her about the ordeal.

It was not until September 29th that Mayorga was revealed to be the woman at the centre of the allegation. She had been terrified to come forward before – she wouldn’t tell her family or the police about the name of the perpetrator who had attacked her. According to Mayorga, they had met while she was working at a Las Vegas nightclub and Ronaldo had insisted on taking her and a friend to see the view from his penthouse in the nearby Palms Place. Once there they were invited to enjoy the jacuzzi with Ronaldo offering her a change of clothes. It wasn’t until she had begun undressing in the bathroom that he entered, exposing himself and begging her to perform oral sex. Mayorga repeatedly told him no but he would not allow her to leave without a kiss. Feeling cornered, she complied, but this only drove him on. After one of his friends had intervened, Ronaldo took Mayorga into a room. He then attempted to remove her underwear, began to grope her without consent, and jumped on her. Mayorga said she was raped anally, without protection or lubrication.

Mayorga’s allegation is not one that should be dismissed easily, no matter how little visibility it has been given in the media. There is a recording of her call to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police the following day at 2:16pm, with the computer-aided despatch that accompanied the report, which Der Spiegel obtained, describing the complaint under the Code 426 – the number used for sexual offences. There is also a record of Mayorga asking for a rape kit examination. She was taken to the University Medical Centre just before 4pm and tested. Once that was complete, her injuries, a circumferential swelling with bruising and a laceration, were photographed. Throughout the entire process she refused to say who her assailant was, terrified that she would be crushed under the weight of his name.

The following months were incredibly difficult for Mayorga. She was recommended a lawyer, under the pseudonym ‘Mary Smith’ in Der Spiegel, who specialised in traffic violations. Rape is the second worst crime to commit in Nevada after murder but proving it is notoriously difficult. Mayorga wanted justice, for Ronaldo to learn a lesson, but going public was not seen as an option. She wanted him to at least pay for the treatment that the ordeal had forced her to undergo. The deal Mayorga’s representative came to with Ronaldo’s plethora of lawyers was long and drawn out, with the amount he paid to silence Mayorga coming to $375,000. She was not allowed to mention Ronaldo’s name to her family or her therapist. Ronaldo himself, not present at the mediation, had to answer a number of questionnaires. He claimed that they had engaged in consensual sex in one answered in December 2009, but in September of the same year admitted that Mayorga had told him “no and stop several times” and that she “said that she didn’t want to,but made herself available”.

Knowing that she would likely be faced with a barrage of abuse and non-believers when she came forward a few days ago, some may wonder why Mayorga has come forward all these years later. Her new lawyer sees the non-disclosure agreement that she signed as not legally binding, but more importantly, Mayorga was one of many who read through those inspiring #MeToo stories, giving her hope that if men like Weinstein can be brought to justice, she needn’t suffer in silence any longer. It’s true that there has been worryingly little coverage into the case, especially seeing as Las Vegas’ police department have reopened one that coincides with the dates that Mayorga has provided. However, with the evidence procured, the #MeToo movement could finally set to break through the toxic atmosphere that pollutes sport. It certainly will not be easy, but it is an enormous step in the right direction. This resurfaced allegation will not be disappearing with the ease that the initial claim did because survivors simply will no longer be oppressed. Ronaldo himself has responded over social media, citing Mayorga and Der Spiegel’s claim as ‘fake news’.

Ronaldo may yet escape from this without facing true justice, as is the sad nature of some of these cases, but the #MeToo movement has opened many eyes, and it looks like the secrets lurking in sport are truly about to be examined.