The first reaction from the writer of this feature when sifting through the details of the Cristiano Ronaldo's non-disclosure agreement offered to the alleged rape victim, school teacher, Kathryn Mayorga, was the kind that makes the bowels churn with bile. As per the details published in Der Spiegel - football's answer to WikiLeaks - there are evidence and accounts of Ronaldo and his posse of lawyers and image-specialist mafia involved in bribing, extortion, manipulation, emotional sabotage. All the sort of behaviour you'd expect to be employed by the CIA aiding a South American/West Asian coup grinding down an elected Left-leaning government to a stub. To say the plot is convoluted beyond the permission of decency would be a criminal understatement. If the following sounds as grimy as the dirtiest crime noir novels, it is because it is.
The first red flag came hours after the sexual assault, on the night of Friday, 12 June, 2009. Following the medical examination that confirmed rectal contusions and sodomisation, as per accounts, Mayorga was dissuaded from pressing charges, first, by a nurse from the hospital and then by a detective from the Las Vegas Police Department. It was a classic case of good-cop/bad-cop. The nurse approached her suggesting that a case would tarnish her reputation and that she would be forever labelled as the woman who extorted Ronaldo. The detective was portrayed to be less than sympathetic, who without tact, pursued a statement that would not implicate Ronaldo. On both occasions, she was warned with the potential public humiliation that is reserved for 'gold-diggers'. Thus, self-doubt, paranoia and shame were introduced into the mind of an otherwise confident woman. It was furthered by the radio silence from law-enforcement. According to paperwork filed, there was no immediate follow-up work by the police, despite this being an open case. As if the powers-at-play were waiting for Mayorga to make the first move.
"She was terrified and unable to act or advocate for herself," said one of her statements. As per her records, she soon fell into bouts of behaviour symptomatic of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
Her state of panic and fear of retaliation was not helped by incompetent legal advice by her first lawyer. Completely out of depth, her counsel opted for a meagre out-of-court-settlement. In response, a team of private detectives were said to be deployed by Ronaldo's image management agency to dig into Mayorga's past. To put the inequality of pursuing equal judicial means and measures into context: Nike, EA Sports, Tag Heuer, Herbalife, Pestana Hotel Group and the conglomerates who have Ronaldo's face plastered on their brands have had a vested interest. It is then, when in a spirit of full-disclosure demanded by those companies, Ronaldo admitted to his representatives on-record that intercourse had taken place, and it was not consented, with Mayorga yelling "no" and "stop" on multiple occasions.
According to her new counsel Leslie Stovall, Ronaldo's representatives produced sources placed in high-positions at the Las Vegas Police Department and were pressing to close the case. They reportedly were also looking to pursue a line of investigation that would turn the case from assault to sexual harassment. Mayorga, by then taking medication to counter her depression, was said to be in a diminished mental state of retreat and was coaxed into an agreement of non-disclosure worth $375,000 (at a time when Ronaldo had a net-worth close to $250 million). Tastelessly, a breach of contract would make Mayorga liable to pay Ronaldo a sum in multiples of that settlement amount.
Those suggesting Mayorga's allegation to be fictitious, should consider that Der Spiegel spent most of 2017 gathering evidence for attribution in the world exclusive called "Cristiano Ronaldo's Secret". It was a year later that her identity became public due to Stovall pursuing a civil lawsuit.
How Mayorga’s non-disclosure agreement is a paradox
Having some of the best lawyers in the world gives you a luxury of an ironclad defence. The non-disclosure agreement, while binding, by its very nature, is one of the most self-defeating pieces of words on a paper since the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. Why? Because it is an instrument that is aiding and abetting an obstruction of justice and lawful investigation. This, coupled with the fact that Mayorga, as per medical evidence, was making decisions while not at her full cognitive capacity, are the foundations on which this case rests. And while it may seem straightforward, the court of justice will find itself impeded by the very letter of law it enforces. In other words, getting out of a figurative straightjacket would be simpler — which is to say as it usually never happens unless you are Houdini. But there are exceptions and Mayorga's case could be one of them.
The final contending point in Mayorga's lawsuit is that Ronaldo's representatives fraudulently produced the settlement. Fraud, other than its usual meaning, also accounts for when evidence exhibits manipulation of facts and persons. She was ordered to remove any electronic or physical communication to that end. In the American court of law, misinformation or obstruction equates to misrepresentation. Mayorga claims certain truths about cause and effect were also twisted.
The competing argument from Ronaldo's management group would be the in form of the non-disclosure agreement. And that it is essentially not their fault that Mayorga's first lawyer lacked the experience and the knowledge to properly investigate the terms of the settlement. Mayorga pleads that she and her counsel were bullied and tricked into the agreement and that she didn't know better.
Ronaldo's breach of agreement
Gestifute, acting on the behalf of Ronaldo, inserted a null-and-void clause as a token gesture. The clause made a provision that in case Mayorga felt ill ease with the terms of the settlement, she'd be free to write a letter to the company and that that would give her the freedom to pursue a better course of justice. Mayorga carries the receipt of the letter, but the company, naturally, claims to have never received it.
Football superbrand Cristiano Ronaldo stands accused of battery, rape, and "malicious, fraudulent, oppressive" conduct. This makes a lot of people in high positions in the football pantheon uncomfortable, and reputations are at stake. The moral compass of the brands Ronaldo bandies will be brought to the forefront by either their silence in respect to both the victim and the due process of law or by their boisterous, insensitive chest-beating: something club Juventus have been guilty of last night.
The club said on social media: "Cristiano Ronaldo has shown in recent months his great professionalism and dedication, which is appreciated by everyone at Juventus. The events allegedly dating back to almost 10 years ago do not change this opinion, which is shared by anyone who has come into contact with this great champion."
Club manager Allegri went onto say: "I've known Cristiano for three months now and for over 15 years of his career he has shown to be a great professional both on and off the pitch. He is ready to return to action tomorrow."
The above-mentioned narrative when simplified is as follows: "Well, it was years ago, you know? And besides, he always stays behind for training and has won a lot of stuff. So, really, lay off."
Portugal, however, named a Ronaldo-less squad last night. The dignity from Portugal manager Fernando Santos caught the Portuguese Associated Press off-guard. They ran with the headline: Ronaldo es suspendido de la selección Portuguesa mientras se lo investiga por violación en Estados Unidos (Ronaldo is suspended from the Portuguese national team while investigating it for rape in the United States) only to correct it after an angry phone call from the Portugal FA's PR wing.
What everyone with half-an-opinion regarding this lawsuit needs to be aware of is: Talent does not privilege your behaviour. While, in the end, be the court of law who decide the legitimacy of the evidence, the writer hopes others take a leaf out of Fernando Santos' book and say nothing until the facts of the case are out in the open.
The writer understands the premise of 'innocent until proven guilty' but while the case is in progress, every time a TV channel reserves airtime for a Cristiano Ronaldo advert or every time Ronaldo turns up to play for Juventus or Portugal, football will be sending out the wrong message. Maybe, just maybe, Ronaldo should 'take the L' and bench himself for the time being.
It's the least amount of grace one can expect from someone who wants to be remembered as the best. Maybe, start from there.
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Updated Date: Oct 05, 2018 21:35:45 IST