Nevada law-enforcement officials investigating a sexual-assault accusation against soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo have obtained a warrant for a sample of the player’s DNA, according to one of his lawyers, who dismissed it as a “very standard request.”
The officials have sent the warrant to authorities in Italy, according to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the existence of the warrant. Ronaldo, a Portuguese forward and five-time world player of the year, plays in Italy for powerhouse club Juventus.
Investigators are seeking the DNA sample as part of a recently reopened investigation into accusations by an American woman, Kathryn Mayorga, who says Ronaldo raped her in a Las Vegas hotel room in 2009 and later paid her US$375,000 for her silence.
“Mr. Ronaldo has always maintained, as he does today, that what occurred in Las Vegas in 2009 was consensual in nature, so it is not surprising that DNA would be present, nor that the police would make this very standard request as part of their investigation,” one of Ronaldo’s lawyers, Peter Christiansen, said in a statement Thursday afternoon.
Juventus declined to comment.
Ronaldo and his lawyers repeatedly denied the claims when they first emerged in October; Ronaldo labelled them “fake news” in a video posted on one of his social-media accounts, and at one point his lawyers threatened to sue the German newsmagazine that was the first to publish Mayorga’s accusations.
The magazine, Der Spiegel, said it had obtained confidential documents related to the case, and the purported payment to settle it, from the shadowy whistle-blower platform Football Leaks. Around the same time, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said it had reopened its investigation into the alleged rape, following up on information it said had been provided to them by the victim.
A number of the documents Mayorga’s lawyers say support her claim were published by Der Spiegel, which also published a lengthy interview with Mayorga. Ronaldo’s lawyers described the publication of the documents, which included a questionnaire Der Spiegel said detailed events that occurred in a suite at the Palms hotel almost a decade ago, as “blatantly illegal.”
Ronaldo, now 33, was a star at England’s Manchester United when he met Mayorga, now 35, at a Las Vegas nightclub in 2009, just before his record-breaking transfer to Real Madrid. He invited her and others to his suite in the early hours of June 13, 2009, she said.
According to her lawsuit, Mayorga reported the assault to police later that day and received a medical examination, during which evidence was collected in what is sometimes known as a rape kit. Las Vegas police have acknowledged that Mayorga filed a report and was examined, but police said she did not name her attacker at that time. The case was reopened at Mayorga’s request in September.
News of the warrant comes two days after a second woman, Jasmine Lennard, a British model and reality-television star who previously wrote a tell-all about her relationship with Ronaldo, accused him of violent behaviour in a series of posts on Twitter.
In more than a dozen posts, Lennard said Ronaldo threatened to “have me kidnapped and have my body cut up and put in a bag and thrown in a river” if she dated somebody else. She also tweeted offers of help to Mayorga’s lawyers.
She did not share the “hundreds of messages” she said she had kept, however, and later deleted her Twitter account. In a statement provided to a British newspaper, Ronaldo’s legal team said the player had never had contact with Lennard, and would take “appropriate legal action in due course.”
Lennard could not be reached for comment on her accusations. Larissa Drohobyczer, a lawyer for Mayorga, did not respond to multiple messages left at her office.
In the months since the reports in Der Spiegel, which came shortly after Ronaldo’s move from Real Madrid to Juventus in a deal worth more than US$114-million, Ronaldo has tried to brush aside the scandal by focusing on his game – he leads the Italian league in scoring with 14 goals – and promoting his brand.
On Thursday, that meant a pitch for his new body spray. The post was published on Twitter only minutes after The Journal’s report went online.