A plane with a banner carrying the phrase “Believe Kathryn Mayorga” (“Believe in Kathryn Mayorga”) was seen above Old Trafford stadium during striker Cristiano Ronaldo’s re-debut for Manchester United today. It was a protest by the British feminist group “Level Up” in support of the woman who accuses Ronaldo of having raped her in 2009. At the time, he was also defending the English team.
The match ended in Manchester United’s victory (4-1) over Newcastle, with two goals scored by Ronaldo. The banner appeared in the sky shortly after the kickoff.
“Let’s say NO to the culture of silence about abuses in the football community,” wrote the group, which issued a manifesto recalling the case.
“I believe Kathryn Mayorga when she says Cristiano Ronaldo raped her in 2009. I believe Ronaldo should be held responsible. I believe in solidarity, not silence. It’s time for football to face the horrible reality of rape,” says the feminist manifesto .
American Kathryn Mayorga claims to have been raped by the Portuguese in June 2009, when the player was on vacation in Las Vegas, United States, weeks before moving to Real Madrid. That day, Ronaldo met Kathryn and was photographed with her at a nightclub in town. The woman claims that the player invited her to a hotel room, where she was allegedly raped.
See photos of Cristiano Ronaldo’s Manchester United debut
Although Kathryn filed a complaint with the American police the next day, the case only came to light in 2017, when the German newspaper “Der Spiegel” had access to classified documents recording the accusation. Cristiano Ronaldo has always denied the American’s allegations and has not commented on today’s protest.
Prosecutor says charge cannot be proven
In 2019, ten years after the Las Vegas meeting, Nevada prosecutor Steven Wolfson announced that Cristiano Ronaldo would not be indicted for rape because it would no longer be possible to prove the fact.
According to the prosecution, the investigations were hampered because in her first report to the police Kathryn refused to say the name of the aggressor and the place where the crime would have occurred. The case was closed in the American court.
In 2010, Katryhn and Ronaldo reached an out-of-court agreement for her to drop her complaint and not speak publicly about the case. The attacker’s lawyers said they had paid $375,000 for the American to keep the case confidential.
In 2018, the American said she was encouraged by the “Me Too” movement, filed a lawsuit to invalidate the previous agreement and spoke publicly about the matter, accusing the Portuguese of rape again.
At the time, the player published a note in which he denies having committed the crime.
“I vehemently deny the charges leveled against me,” he said. “Rape is a heinous crime that goes against everything I am and believe in. Even though I’m concerned about clearing my name, I refuse to feed the media spectacle created by people seeking promotion at my expense.”
According to the British newspaper “The Sun”, the American is now filing a civil lawsuit against Ronaldo, demanding 56 million pounds (R$ 406 million) as compensation.