September 28, 2018 / 6:08 PM / 21 days ago

Ronaldo lawyers to sue Der Spiegel over 'illegal' report

LISBON (Reuters) - Lawyers for Cristiano Ronaldo said on Friday they would sue German magazine Der Spiegel after it published “blatantly illegal” accusations by an American woman who alleges she was raped by the Portuguese soccer star in 2009.

Ronaldo’s lawyer Christian Schertz said in a statement the report was “an inadmissible reporting of suspicions in the area of privacy”, and that he would seek legal redress for his client from the magazine.

The statement was sent to Reuters by Ronaldo’s agent Gestifute in response to a request for comment on the Der Spiegel story. Gestifute did not answer any specific questions about the content of the Der Spiegel report, which Reuters was unable to independently verify.

Ronaldo is one of the biggest names in world sport. He has been named player of the year five times and transferred to Juventus from Real Madrid this summer for 100 million euros. The Italian club declined to comment on the Der Spiegel report.

The magazine said the rape allegedly took place in June 2009 in a hotel room in Las Vegas, according to Leslie Mark Stovall, lawyer for the alleged victim, Kathryn Mayorga.

Ronaldo and Mayorga then reached an out-of-court agreement, according to Stovall as reported in the magazine.

It said, according to Stovall, that she had pledged never to speak of the accusation again and Ronaldo paid her $375,000.

“Kathryn was sexually assaulted in June 2009 by an individual named Cristiano Ronaldo,” Mayorga’s lawyer, Leslie Mark Stovall, said in a video published online by Der Spiegel.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Serie A - Juventus v Bologna - Allianz Stadium, Turin, Italy - September 26, 2018 Juventus' Cristiano Ronaldo before the match REUTERS/Massimo Pinca/File Photo

Reuters was not able to independently verify Mayorga’s allegations.

Stovall did not immediately respond to email requests from Reuters for comment on the report and Mayorga was not available for comment in telephone calls to her home.

Her lawyer told Der Spiegel, however, that he had filed a civil complaint seeking to declare the non-disclosure agreement void.

“The purpose of this lawsuit is to hold Cristiano Ronaldo responsible within a civil court of law for the injuries he has caused Kathryn Mayorga and the consequences of those injuries,” Stovall told Der Spiegel.

Schertz said he would seek compensation from Der Spiegel for “moral damages in an amount corresponding to the gravity of the infringement, which is probably one of the most serious violations of personal rights in recent years.”

The magazine’s Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Alfred Weinzierl, told Reuters that Der Spiegel had repeatedly written to Ronaldo’s management and lawyers about the allegations before publishing its report.

“We sent written questions, to which there were no answers. Nobody sued us in connection with earlier Ronaldo reports,” he said in an email.

Mayorga told Der Spiegel she no longer felt bound by the non-disclosure agreement as she suffers from the consequences of the night nine years ago.

“I’ve had like these serious breakdowns,” she told the magazine. “And again, blaming of the rape. And I blame him, and I blame myself for signing that thing.”

Reporting By Axel Bugge; Additional Reporting by Giulia Segreti in Milan; Joseph Nasr and Thomas Escritt in Berlin; Tom Hals in WILMINGTON, Delaware; Editing by Jon Boyle

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