Any car, any house, any executive jet. Indeed, any number of made-to-order surrogate children. Cristiano Ronaldo, footballer turned global brand, the ‘galactico’ with a galactic fortune — some £350 million and counting — can have it all.
Except apparently the silence he allegedly tried — and failed — to buy of the woman who accuses him of rape.
The striker, recruited this year at the age of 33 by Juventus following a glittering career that has taken in Manchester United and Real Madrid, is now facing the possibility of being tried for rape in the U.S. state of Nevada.
It follows the claim from former hotel hostess Kathryn Mayorga that the Portugal captain raped her in his £770-a-night penthouse room at the Hotel Palms Place in Las Vegas in 2009.
In a statement, Ronaldo’s lawyer Christian Schertz said ‘the reporting in Spiegel is blatantly illegal’. He has added that he had been instructed to seek compensation for ‘moral damages’ over ‘probably one of the most serious violations of personal rights in recent years’.
In a lengthy and detailed interview, Miss Mayorga told the German news magazine Der Spiegel how Ronaldo apologised after forcing himself upon her despite repeated rejections.
She says he went ‘down on his knees and said: ‘‘Ninety-nine per cent of me is a good guy, I just don’t know about the other one per cent.’’ ’
Claiming to have suffered years of mental torment and suicidal thoughts as a result, Miss Mayorga says Ronaldo’s lawyers purchased her silence in 2010 with a £288,000 out-of-court settlement, something she now regrets.
Prior to the settlement, the magazine cites documents claiming that U.S. lawyers hired a private detective to follow Miss Mayorga and ‘dig up dirt’, watching her house, following her and finding out information about her parking tickets.
She also claims his lawyers tried to ‘discredit’ her, saying that her hostess job was not a ‘good girl’ job’.
As part of the settlement, Ronaldo’s legal team reportedly insisted that Miss Mayorga be prohibited from mentioning the player even to her therapist. If the allegation is proven, that ‘one per cent’ of flawed character will be fatal for a player used to having the world at his feet.
As the cases of Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein show, fame, wealth and passage of time are now no deterrent to women seeking redress for sexual offences.
There is no time limit on prosecutions for rape in Nevada, so long as the alleged victim files a report with police within four years of the event, and the offence carries a life sentence, with the possibility of parole only after ten years in prison.
According to Der Spiegel, Miss Mayorga, now 34, contacted police shortly after the alleged attack but initially refused to identify her assailant. She then decided not to pursue it through the criminal system and chose the civil path, and a settlement.
Yesterday, Ronaldo, a father of four, counter-attacked, accusing Miss Mayorga of peddling ‘fake, fake news’, while his lawyer in Germany promised legal action against Der Spiegel.
But the magazine is standing by its story.
Miss Mayorga, who until recently was working as a teacher in Las Vegas, says she has been encouraged to come forward by the more favourable climate created by the #MeToo movement, and the opportunity to discover if others have been abused by Ronaldo.
‘It’s something I’ve always wondered about,’ she tells the magazine.
Explaining why she accepted what is in effect hush money, paid from a company account in the British Virgin Islands used to house some of the player’s sponsorship earnings, Miss Mayorga explains: ‘It’s a pretty famous guy. So, I’m terrified. I’m scared.’
She goes on: ‘The reason why I signed the contract in the first place [was] because I didn’t want my name out there.’
But with the passing of time she is now ready to confront an episode that changed her character, resulting in heavy drinking and suicidal thoughts.
‘I wanted to teach him a lesson. I wanted him to deal with it, to have to face me,’ she says, adding that she accepted the money only to finance her treatment.
‘I’m not going to pay for my goddamn treatment. He raped me. He’s going to pay for my goddamn treatment!’
Relating how she encountered the footballer while drinking with friends in the hotel’s night club, Miss Mayorga says: ‘He just came up to me . . . grabbed my arm. And he was like: ‘‘You! Come with me!” I was like, are you joking?’
Paparazzi pictures show her talking to and dancing with the footballer and she says they exchanged phone numbers and she later got a text from him inviting her and a friend to a party in his suite.
She says he suggested they went for a swim but while she changed in one of the bathrooms, Ronaldo entered, exposed himself and begged her to touch him. He finally relented but insisted on a kiss. But the kiss turned into more.
‘He starts to come on to me very strong,’ she says. ‘And he starts to do stuff to me and touch me and grab me. I pushed him away and kept saying No.’
A friend of the player interrupted the encounter, she says, allowing her to finish dressing. But Ronaldo renewed his approach, despite Miss Mayorga allegedly telling him ‘Listen dude, this is not going to happen. No, No, No.’
Still, he persisted. ‘I turned away. He tried to take my underwear off. I turned away from him and curled up into a ball. And that’s when he jumped on me.’ she says, claiming she was then raped, without a condom.
‘After he assaulted me, he wouldn’t let me leave again. He wouldn’t let me leave. And he was calling me ‘baby, baby’. He gave me this look, this guilty look. Almost like he felt bad. I don’t remember but I’m pretty sure he said “sorry” or “are you hurt?” ‘And by this time, he’s . . . on his knees. He says the 99 per cent thing.’
Her friend who had accompanied her to the party, said Miss Mayorga emerged from the bathroom in a complete state, her hair was dishevelled and her make-up smudged.’
According to reports, which have not been verified by this newspaper, during negotiations for the gagging settlement, in December 2009, Ronaldo claims the sex was consensual. But in an email sent the previous September by members of his Portuguese legal team, the player appears to admit that Miss Mayorga asked him to stop and said ‘no’ several times.
Referred to as ‘X’, the player reportedly recalls that the alleged victim was lying on her side. ‘It was rude. We didn’t change position — 5/7 minutes. She said she didn’t want to, but she made herself available.’
And further on: ‘But she kept saying no. “Don’t do it. I’m not like the others.” I apologised afterwards. ‘She didn’t complain about it being brutal. She complained that I forced her. She didn’t say anything about wanting to go to the police.’
There are certainly contradictions in the accounts. The footballer says Miss Mayorga performed a sex act on him which she denies. Ronaldo says they engaged in foreplay in the bathroom.
He also portrays the encounter in the club differently. He says Miss Mayorga and her friends asked to be let into the VIP section and had had a few drinks. The alleged victim, according to some of Ronaldo’s companions, didn’t appear disturbed in any way when she later emerged from his hotel suite.
With a limitless bank balance, Ronaldo will no doubt deploy maximum legal firepower to contest the rape claim and silence Der Spiegel, which has been pursuing the story since last year. Miss Mayorga, meanwhile, has a new lawyer.
For the player, with his reputation and, more importantly, his liberty at stake, this is a match he cannot afford to lose. The allegation casts a shadow over a life that is, alternately, the subject of adoration, envy and bemusement.
Born into poverty on the Portuguese island of Madeira in 1985 —his father was an alcoholic — Cristiano showed promise as a footballer and went to train near Lisbon with Sporting CP.
His progress was meteoric, despite an operation to treat a heart abnormality, and in 2003 he was signed by Manchester United for £12 million. Since then, he has amassed a huge fortune, not only through stellar earnings but also sponsorship deals and advertising.
He has lent his name and image to everything, from KFC chicken to Egyptian steel, and made millions more through tie-ups with Nike and Castrol. He — or his advisers — have exploited his popularity to the full, using his huge following on social media to sell slots to advertisers. There is now the obligatory line in male underwear (called CR7 after his initials and shirt number) and all the accoutrements of the wealth (an estimated £71 million last year alone) that such ventures bring.
But with wealth comes curiosity, not least about Ronaldo’s sexuality. He has not bothered to challenge suggestions that he may be gay, contenting himself with a string of girlfriends, the latest of whom is Spanish model Georgina Rodriguez, mother of his fourth child, Alana, born last year.
The origin of his three older children is one of the more bizarre aspects of his super-gilded existence. Enquiries by the Daily Mail established that his son Cristiano Junior, born in 2010, and twins Eva Maria and Mateo, also born last year, are the result of surrogate births in California, apparently involving separate egg and womb donors. The identities of these women have been kept secret.
Ronaldo’s devoted global fanbase remains united in its support of him in light of the allegation. In Madeira, where the main airport is named after him, his name is spoken with reverence. The player’s charitable works — he has helped a number of very sick children receive treatment — also endear him to many.
Others, however, dislike what they regard as a vain, sometimes childish, character — Ronaldo was in tears after being sent off during his first appearance for Juventus last month. But the dislike of opposing fans for this spoilt multimillionaire is as nothing to the storm brewing on the other side of the Atlantic.
Miss Mayorga’s family are standing by her in the coming legal battle. Her mother Cheryl, 66, tells Der Spiegel: ‘It’s never left her. Every day, she lives it. There were times when she would call me, and [Ronaldo] would be on a billboard or whatever, and she would just completely disintegrate.’
‘The detective told me: “Whoever did it, your daughter needs to let us know who this is.” ’
Looking at his daughter during the interview, he addresses her: ‘And then I talked to you and you refused.’ He says she told him: ‘You don’t understand Dad. This is bigger than you think.’
So it may prove.
Ronaldo has a problem in the coming battle — his own credibility as a witness. In July 2017, he was charged with fraudulently evading almost €15 million in tax between 2011 and 2014. In May this year, the Spanish tax authorities rejected the player’s settlement offer of €14 million and in June he was given a suspended sentence of two years and forced to repay almost Euros 20 million in compensation.
In a letter to the players which was meant to be delivered to him by his legal team, Miss Mayorga writes: ‘I hope you realise what you have done and learned from this terrible mistake!! Don’t take another woman’s life as you did mine!!
‘I don’t care about your money that was the last thing I wanted!! I wanted justice! There really is ‘no justice’ in this case.’
In this, the gravest crisis he has faced in a charmed existence, Cristiano Ronaldo has everything to play for.