An American woman claims Cristiano Ronaldo raped her in Las Vegas. Years ago, the soccer star paid her to remain silent. Now, the woman is going public for the first time and filing a complaint against Ronaldo. She possesses a document that could be extremely dangerous for him. By DER SPIEGEL Staff
She was supposed to be invisible, damned to silence. Forever. Nobody was to ever learn about that night in Las Vegas back in 2009, especially not her version of events.
She even signed a settlement deal and received a payoff ensuring that she would never give voice to the accusations.
She signed, she says, out of fear for herself and her family. And out of impotence, the inability to stand up to him. And out of the hope that she could finally put the incident behind her. But, says Kathryn Mayorga, she was never able to close that chapter.
The American is a slender 34-year-old with long, dark hair and green eyes. Until recently, she worked at an elementary school. But she quit, she says, “because I need all my strength now.”
She needs the strength to stand up to the man who she accuses of having raped her nine years ago — accusations that he denies.
The man isn’t just anybody. It is Cristiano Ronaldo, arguably the best soccer player in the world, with vast amounts of success, money and adoration from the fans. An anonymous woman versus Ronaldo — the discrepancy could hardly be greater.
They met on June 12, 2009 in a Las Vegas nightclub. Ronaldo was there on vacation with his brother-in-law and cousin. It was the summer when the star, then 24, would transfer from Manchester United to Real Madrid for a then-record sum of 94 million euros.
Kathryn Mayorga, 25 at the time, was a budding model and one of her jobs was to hang out with other young, beautiful women in front of bars to lure in guests.
On that Friday in June, the paths of the model and the multimillionaire crossed in the VIP section of Rain, a nightclub belonging to Palms Casino Resort. Paparazzi photos show Mayorga standing close to Ronaldo and talking. He is wearing a white shirt with a narrow black tie and she is in a light gray dress with gold jewelry. He plays it cool while she beams at him. Within hours, the gossip pages around the world would be busying themselves with trying to figure out who this “mysterious brunette” is at Ronaldo’s side. The party continued in the early morning hours in Ronaldo’s penthouse in the nearby Hotel Palms Place. And only two people know what happened in the bedroom there: Kathryn Mayorga and Cristiano Ronaldo.
What is clear is that the soccer star paid Mayorga $375,000 a few months later as part of an out-of-court settlement. In exchange, Mayorga signed an agreement to never talk about her accusations that Cristiano Ronaldo had raped her.
A Perfidious Accusation
DER SPIEGEL reported on the non-disclosure agreement for the first time in spring 2017. The documents pertaining to the agreement were made available to the newsmagazine by the whistleblowing platform Football Leaks. In the reporting for that article, DER SPIEGEL contacted Mayorga, who appears in the story under the pseudonym Susan K. “No comment,” was her response. When journalists encountered her in front of her home, she ran away.
When the first article appeared, Ronaldo’s agency Gestifute released a statement saying, “the article is nothing but a piece of journalistic fiction.” The statement continued: “The newspaper has based their entire narrative on documents which are unsigned and where the parties are not identified.”
That portrayal is incorrect.
Numerous documents in DER SPIEGEL’s possession prove as much, including some which have been signed by Ronaldo himself. The existence of those documents could help explain why he has not, in the last year-and-a-half, followed up on his threats to take DER SPIEGEL to court. In its public statement, Gestifute also discredited the alleged victim, saying she “refuses to come forward and confirm the veracity of the accusation.”
It is a perfidious accusation. After all, the key element of the out-of-court settlement was that Mayorga was not allowed to comment on the incident. Should she do so, according to the deal, she would have to pay the money back to Ronaldo and possibly damages as well.
Now, though, she has decided to talk anyway, telling her story in detail for the first time. Why? What made her change her mind?
Essentially, there are three reasons. First, she has a new lawyer, one who is both experienced and unflinching. He believes the non-disclosure agreement is not legally binding and he has filed a civil complaint against Ronaldo in Kathryn Mayorga’s name. That complaint is supported by a 27-page document that could have far-reaching consequences for the football star. The document contains a version of how Ronaldo experienced that night, including the following quote: “She said no and stop several times.”