A federal judge has called for a bench trial to determine the validity of a 2010 out-of-court settlement agreement between Cristiano Ronaldo and Kathryn Mayorga, the woman who accused the Juventus player of raping her in 2009. The decision by U.S. District Judge Jennifer Dorsey overrules a February decision by U.S. Magistrate Judge Daniel Albregts to have the case handled by arbitration rather than by the judicial system.
The precipitating incident happened in 2009, when Ronaldo and Mayorga met at a Las Vegas nightclub and subsequently went back to Ronaldo’s hotel suite. Mayorga claims it was in that suite that Ronaldo raped her, while Ronaldo maintains that the sex was consensual. After reporting the incident to police as a rape the next day, Mayorga eventually decided against pursuing criminal charges and instead sought a settlement with Ronaldo. The parties agreed on a settlement in 2010 that would pay Mayorga $375,000 in exchange for her silence on what happened that night in Las Vegas.
The matter of the rape accusation and settlement became public when German publication Der Spiegel acquired documents relating to the settlement from sports whistleblower organization Football Leaks, and published a story about it in 2017. In light of the matter being made public, Mayorga eventually broke her silence, hired a new lawyer, and sought to get the 2010 settlement declared legally invalid so that she could bring new civil charges against Ronaldo.
The latest news has to do with a federal case Mayorga brought against Ronaldo that seeks to invalidate the 2010 settlement. Mayorga says she signed the 2010 settlement in a state of emotional duress and in no sound mind, which would mean she was unable to legally consent to the agreement, which would nullify the agreement. Judge Albregts, pointing to the part of the settlement stipulating that all disputes relating to the agreement must be adjudicated in arbitration, recommended against hearing Mayorga’s claims in court, arguing that arbitration was the correct forum for even this question. Judge Dorsey disagreed with Albregts, and so her court will hear arguments to determine if Mayorga “lacked the mental capacity” to sign.
If at trial Dorsey finds that the settlement should be invalidated, then Mayorga can pursue further charges in civil court, as she has tried to do in both state and federal court. If Dorsey upholds the settlement, then Mayorga will have to move the matter to private arbitration, where the proceedings, should they continue, would be kept away from the public’s eye. The upcoming trial will most likely be focused on the narrow issue of Mayorga’s state of mind at the time of signing the 2010 settlement, but it should provide the first official release of the settlement agreement itself, which, because it would be presented in court, would be available to the public.