The elite team of ‘sweepers’ who ran up $1m bill to keep Ronaldo’s image spotless
AS EX-MODEL’S LAWYER REVIVES RAPE CLAIM...
In 2009, two weeks after leaving Old Trafford with his third Premier League title medal, Cristiano Ronaldo faced the biggest crisis of his career. On June 13, before joining Real Madrid, he had met model Kathryn Mayorga in a Las Vegas nightclub and invited her to a party at his penthouse.
There, she claims he raped her – an allegation he vehemently denies.
Within hours, still in tears, she had a rigorous police medical examination.
What followed appears like something out of a novel. The footballer’s aides put together a “team” of the world’s highestpowered lawyers, detectives, forensic experts, doctors and PR specialists.
Their goal – to protect their client’s multi-million-pound reputation by ensuring the 25-year-old’s accusation quickly and quietly disappeared for ever.
Gathered from Britain, Ireland, Portugal and America, they racked up a $1million legal bill in the process.
The figure – almost three times the amount Ronaldo eventually paid Ms Mayorga to keep quiet – left him fuming.
But his US lawyers made it clear they thought they were worth their fees.
They pointed out that if the Portuguese star were to be extradited he could, if convicted, face a life sentence.
More importantly, they stressed his need to avoid an enormous hit to his image if the allegations ever became public. However, the efforts of the “team” have left Ms Mayorga’s lawyers so concerned they want to overturn the $375,000 (£287,000) confidentiality agreement she signed.
Last week we revealed that her lead attorney, Leslie Stovall, was to demand a probe into the team’s conduct from Scotland Yard, Greater Manchester Police, England’s Attorney General, the FBI, and the attorney generals of Ireland, Italy and California. All have now had letters, as well as Interpol.
Mr Stovall said: “We have asked these agencies to determine whether Ronaldo and any individuals and organisations associated with him have violated any laws within their jurisdiction.”
The Las Vegas lawyer says the non-disclosure deal was designed to “prevent or delay criminal prosecution” of the alleged assault.
He calls it a targeted “contemporaneous conspiracy” arguing: “Hiding a crime is a crime.”
But this week Ronaldo’s new lawyer hit back, claiming hackers had fabricated stolen documents to make him look guilty. Extracts of these, he claimed, had been published in German magazine Der Spiegel. The “team” came together in mid-2009 after Ronaldo, 33, told his Portuguese lawyer Carlos Osório de Castro about the claims being made. The attorney told a colleague he had spoken to “the kid”, as he calls Ronaldo, about the alleged assault. Fearful of the threat of a
criminal investigation – and the effect it would have on his client’s reputation – he brought together a crew tasked with ensuring whatever happened never became public.
The “team”, as they are referred to in legal papers, included a top UK law firm which promotes itself on protecting reputations and has worked with footballers.
In the US, Osório de Castro employed a pit-bull firm of lawyers renowned in media circles. They were claimed to be so aggressive that one Hollywood ladies’ man joked they had “f ***** more people than he had”.
The “team” included a £360-perhour ex-police officer with good contacts in the Vegas force, a medical professional and a forensic expert.
The million-dollar unit was lined up against Ms Mayorga, who earned a modest living through modelling. According to court papers, Ms Mayorga, now 34 and in hiding after death threats from fans, alleges Ronaldo assaulted her in a bathroom as she changed to use the hot tub.
She claims that after a police medical examination a nurse and a detective told her she would be humiliated if she pursued the case.
Fearful, she refused to press charges and instead hired her own attorney.
Meanwhile, it is claimed, the footballer’s crew wanted to know everything about his alleged victim and had a detective secretly watching her.
He collected details about her work history, information on parking tickets and who she voted for.
One note published in Der Spiegel is claimed to have stated: “Left house last night at 8pm, drove to MGM Hotel, parked car and met young man she hugged at the elevator.” Another observed that in a restaurant “she drank red wine, she had more than three glasses of wine”.
Ms Mayorga realised she was being followed. Her father, Larry said: “I took her to kickboxing during this time. I wanted her to learn to defend herself. We were very worried about her.”
The private eye is claimed to have tried to tap old friends on the force who allegedly revealed they would not oppose an out-of-court settlement.
In September 2009, Der Spiegel claims Ronaldo’s team came up with a questionnaire seeking every detail of that night in Las Vegas.
The results, which are said to have ended up in the hands of Mr Stovall via whistleblowing website Football Leaks, now play a key role in the case. In court papers, Mr Stovall claims the purpose of the “team” was “to obstruct the criminal investigation and prosecution of Cristiano Ronaldo”.
Referring to the team, Mr Stovall told the Mirror: “We believe, together, these people worked to try and discredit Ms Mayorga before then acting to stop any criminal investigation from happening.
“My office has written to Geoffrey Cox [Attorney General for England and Wales], the Met and Greater Manchester Police.”
Meanwhile, in a stinging riposte, Ronaldo’s new US lawyer hit back claiming cyber-criminals had fabricated stolen documents to make him look guilty of rape.
Peter Christiansen said data published by Der Spiegel had been hacked from computers and altered. He claimed the forward was a victim of “an elaborate and deliberate defamation campaign based on stolen, easily manipulated digital documents”.
He added: “It is my understanding that in 2015, dozens of entities (including law firms) across many different industries throughout Europe were hacked and their electronic data was stolen.
“This hacker attempted to sell this data and one media outlet has now irresponsibly published the stolen documents, significant portions of which were altered and/or completely fabricated.”
Mr Christiansen said Ronaldo, who in July signed for Italian club Juventus, felt “compelled to no longer stand silent” against the accusations against him.
SILENCED Kathryn Mayorga in 2014
SCENE Our man at the apartment
MEETING Pair pictured in Vegas club PARTY INVITE Ronaldo asked girl to apartment