Banner flown over Old Trafford in protest against Cristiano Ronaldo in wake of assault allegations
Protest sign flies over Old Trafford during second Ronaldo debut
Cristiano Ronaldo kick-started his second stint at Manchester United this afternoon with a brace in the Red Devils 4-1 drubbing of Newcastle at Old Trafford.
But his impressive outing for Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s troops came with a reminder that there are still many that will not remain quiet in the wake of sexual assault accusations that were levied in the direction of the Portuguese icon.
— James Benge (@jamesbenge) September 11, 2021
The Level Up feminist group, who remain staunchly in the corner of accusor Kathryn Mayorga, hoped the sign would “remind crowds” of the woefully under-publicized case that has seemingly been forgotten after Ronaldo secured his move back to Manchester.
As such, a plane with the banner “#Believe Kathryn Mayorga” was flown after kick-off in the match against Newcastle in a display of solidarity and unwavering support for Ms. Mayorga, while the group’s co-director Janey Starling wanted to “send a message to football that rape allegations cannot be kicked off the pitch.” [quote via the BBC]
The facts behind the case
Note: the following is an in-depth excerpt of the allegations and resulting legal actions taken via the Manchester Evening News.
Ronaldo is alleged to have raped an American woman, Kathryn Mayorga, during a holiday to Las Vegas in the summer of 2009, just weeks before his move from United to Real Madrid. An allegation he has always denied.
On June 12, 2009, Ronaldo met Mayorga at the now-closed nightclub Rain, and they were pictured by paparazzi on that evening.
Mayorga has alleged that she was invited back to Ronaldo’s suite at the Palms Place Hotel, where it is alleged the rape took place. A day later, on June 13, 2009, Mayorga reported the alleged assault to police but opted against revealing her name or the name of her alleged attacker, or where the incident had taken place.
After hiring a lawyer Mayorga initiated civil proceedings against Ronaldo, rather than going ahead with criminal charges.
As a result of the civil action legal teams representing the two parties met in Las Vegas for mediation in January 2010. Ronaldo was not present at the talks.
That mediation reportedly led to Ronaldo agreeing to pay $375,000 (£270,000) to the complainant as a settlement, though there was no suggestion the settlement implied or accepted any wrongful conduct by the football star. In return Mayorga could not publicly discuss the allegation.
In 2018, a year after the allegation against the player was made public by a German newspaper, Ronaldo’s legal team accepted the 2010 settlement agreement did exist but reiterated Ronaldo had not admitted guilt.
“This agreement is by no means a confession of guilt,” a statement from his lawyers said in 2018. “What happened was simply that Cristiano Ronaldo merely followed the advice of his advisors in order to put an end to the outrageous accusations made against him, in order precisely to avoid attempts, such as those we are now witnessing, to destroy a reputation built thanks to hard work, athletic ability and behavioural correction.”
Las Vegas Police did re-investigate the alleged ‘sexual assault’ in 2018 and in January 2019 they requested a DNA sample from the footballer, and six months later they concluded Ronaldo would not face any criminal charges.
“Based on a review of the information presented at this time, the allegations of sexual assault against Cristiano Ronaldo cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” said the Clark County District Attorney’s office. “Therefore, no charges will be forthcoming.”
A spokesperson added: “She (Mayorga) refused to identify him or disclose where the crime occurred. As a result, the police were unable to follow investigative protocols for sexual assault cases or to conduct any meaningful investigation.
“Without knowing the identity of the perpetrator or the location of the crime, detectives were unable to search for and impound vital forensic evidence. In addition, video evidence, showing interactions between the victim and perpetrator before and after the alleged crime, was lost.”