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US appeals court to hear arguments on secret settlement of Ronaldo rape case

Nature

A U.S. appeals court scheduled to hear Wednesday from lawyers trying to revive a woman’s bid to force international soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo to pay millions more than the $375,000 he owed. hush money he paid her after she accused him of raping her in Las Vegas in 2009.

The woman’s attorney is asking the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse the June 2022 dismissal of the case and reopen the civil lawsuit she first filed in Nevada in 2018.

The appeal argues that the Nevada federal court judge erred by repeatedly rejecting the woman’s attempts to unseal and including as evidence the confidentiality agreement she signed in 2010 when accepting payments by Ronaldo.

A three-judge panel of the San Francisco-based appeals court is not expected to issue an immediate ruling after questioning lawyers for Ronaldo and his accuser, Kathryn Mayorga, during oral arguments Wednesday during a special session at the faculty by right. the University of Nevada, Las Vegas campus.

The Associated Press generally does not name people who say they are victims of sexual assault, but Mayorga has given consent, through his lawyers, including Leslie Mark Stovall, to make his name public.

Ronaldo is one of the most recognizable and richest athletes in the world. He manages the national team of Portugal, his home country, and has played for Spanish team Real Madrid, Italian club Juventus, Manchester United in England and now plays for Saudi professional team Al Nassr.

Las Vegas police reopened a rape investigation after Mayorga’s lawsuit was filed, but Clark County Prosecutor Steve Wolfson decided in 2019 not to pursue criminal charges. He said too much time had passed and the evidence did not show Mayorga’s accusation could be proven to a jury.

Mayorga, a former teacher and model from the Las Vegas area, was 25 when she met Ronaldo at a nightclub in 2009 and accompanied him and others to his hotel suite. She alleges in her lawsuit filed nearly a decade later that the football star, then 24, sexually assaulted her in a bedroom.

Ronaldo, through his lawyers, has maintained that the sex was consensual. The two men entered into a confidentiality agreement in 2010 under which Stovall acknowledged that Mayorga received $375,000.

In dismissing the case last year, U.S. District Judge Jennifer Dorsey in Las Vegas took the unusual step of fining Mayorga’s lead lawyer, Stovall, $335,000 for acting “improperly.” faith” by filing the file on behalf of his client.

Stovall’s appeal on behalf of Mayorga, filed in March, calls Dorsey’s decision a “clear abuse of discretion” and seeks to open the records and restart the case.

It alleges that Mayorga was not bound by the confidentiality agreement because Ronaldo or his associates violated it before a German media outlet, Der Spiegel, published an article in April 2017 titled “The Secret of Cristiano Ronaldo.” based on documents obtained from what court records called “the whistleblower.” Football Leaks portal.”

Ronaldo’s lawyers argued – and the judge agreed – that the “Football Leaks” documents and confidentiality agreement are the product of privileged attorney-client discussions, there is no guarantee that they are authentic and cannot be considered as evidence.

Associated Press reporting.

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