Rabat – Footballing megastar Cristiano Ronaldo has been feeling the heat of the #MeToo movement in the past weeks.
Late last month, Kathryn Mayorga, a 34-year-old American woman, spoke up against the star’s alleged sexual assault. The woman claims the Portugal and Juventus forward raped her in a Las Vegas hotel in 2009.
She says she was coerced into signing a non-disclosure agreement of $375,000 in 2010. However, in late September, her lawyers filed a civil suit against Ronaldo for the rape.
Fake news, fabrication, and manipulation
Following the new lawsuit, the past few weeks have seen a media war between Ronaldo (and his attorney), the media, and his former club Real Madrid.
According to Italian news outlet La Repubblica, the footballer last week said that he was convinced his former employer, the Spanish giant Real Madrid, had a hand in the affair. He believed they manipulated the American woman into filing a lawsuit.
Ronaldo, who has consistently denied any wrongdoing, has called the allegations “fake news” fabricated to sabotage his solid reputation. He added that his “conscience is clear” because he has been an example of professionalism and personal integrity during the nine years he spent in the Spanish capital.
Der Spiegel vs. Ronaldo attorney
In his defense of his client’s conduct, Ronaldo’s lawyer, Peter Christiansen, asserted that the footballer had consensual sex with Mayorga.
Most importantly perhaps, Christiansen cast doubts on the authenticity of the news reports. He said the non-disclosure agreement and other documents used to corroborate the rape allegations were “fabricated” and “pure invention.”
Der Spiegel, the German outlet which first broke the Ronaldo story, did not take long to reply. The newspaper stood by its report and said that the non-disclosure document used in their report was authentic and fact-checked multiple times before publication.
“We have hundreds of documents from different sources that substantiate our reporting. We stand by our reporting. We have no reason to believe that those documents are not authentic.
“Furthermore, as always and before publishing every single article in Der Spiegel, we have meticulously fact-checked our information and had it legally reviewed. The statement that was issued by Peter Christiansen on behalf of Cristiano Ronaldo presents the usual path that Mr Ronaldo and his lawyers have taken in the past when unsuccessfully fighting our investigative work.”
Madrid sues Portuguese outlet
But the latest episode of the Ronaldo-Real Madrid-Mayorga media circus came from a Portuguese outlet, Correio da Manha. On Wednesday, the outlet published a story closer to Ronaldo’s allegations that Madrid played a part in the newly reopened rape investigation.
According to Correio da Manha, Ronaldo had consensual relations with Kathryn Mayorga, his accuser, but he was reluctant to financially settle with her.
The newspaper reported that Ronaldo was convinced of his innocence and strongly opposed to any settlement deal. However, Real Madrid at the time forced him to settle the case.
Madrid has since fumed at the Portuguese outlet’s allegations, strenuously denying having anything to do with the affair. In fact, Real Madrid did not even know that Ronaldo had a relationship with Mayorga, according to statement released by the Spanish club.
Real said it has “absolutely no knowledge of any of the information the newspaper published.” The paper’s story, Real added, is “categorically false” and intended to “seriously damage the image of this club.”
The Guardian reported on Thursday that the Spanish club has taken legal action against the Portuguese newspaper for defamation.
Just like Der Spiegel, however, the Portuguese outlet has challenged Madrid. It says it stands by its report because everything in it was verified and diligently fact-checked.
While Ronaldo, seemingly unperturbed, continues his recently signed contract with Italian giant Juventus, the dark clouds above the Portuguese star are nowhere near dissipation.
The Las Vegas police have reopened an investigation into the case.