Cristiano Ronaldo: Procuratorate renounces indictment - an analysis
Six paragraphs is the message from Clark County Attorney Steven B. Wolfson long, but the most important information is just beginning: The Office of the prosecutor in Las Vegas refuses, "a ten-year-old charge of sexual assault against Cristiano Ronaldo" criminal to pursue.
It was good news for football superstar Ronaldo on Monday night. He will not have to defend himself in the US in a criminal court. Legally, the case will continue: The alleged victim, Kathryn Mayorga, has filed a civil suit in the Nevada Supreme District Court, seeking an out-of-court settlement between Ronaldo and her in 2010 - but no longer a jail sentence. or suspended sentences.
The background of the case: In June 2009, the American and Ronaldo met at a party in a nightclub in Las Vegas. Both went to his hotel room together, where they had intercourse. That is so far undisputed by both.
But Mayorga says Ronaldo raped her, the footballer says it was consensual sex. The Clark County District Attorney's Office now said the allegations of sexual assault against Ronaldo could not be proven beyond reasonable doubt.
Liane Wörner, Professor of Criminal Law and Comparative Criminal Law at the University of Konstanz, tells the SPIEGEL: "In the USA, there is no persecution obligation, as we know it in Germany." The prosecution is more free in its decision-making power. " She could stop the proceedings if, in her view, they had no chance of success.
According to Wörner, this is only possible in Germany if the investigation does not provide sufficient grounds for bringing the public suit, that is, if there is not enough evidence for a sufficient suspicion. The chances of success at the end of the trial played no role in the decision, because the prosecution has to sue already with sufficient suspicion.
"Beyond reasonable doubt"
It's different in the US. The district attorney's office in Las Vegas had to decide whether the alleged evidence, including the results of a so-called "rape kit" that Mayorga had subjected himself to on the day of the alleged offense, and her dress and underwear, were sufficient to convict her - and answered that question with no.
Criminal proceedings are generally decided by juries in the US, the accused is guilty only if all jury members are convinced ("Beyond reasonable doubt"). Such rulings are often difficult to deal with in rape allegations, which are rarely clear and usually involve two different versions of those involved.
Mayorga had turned to the police in 2009 after the incident, but initially did not name the name of her alleged rapist. "Without knowing the identity of the attacker, the detective officers were unable to search for and secure forensic evidence," the district attorney's office said. Mayorga claims, however, that she mentioned the name in conversation with a police officer.
Second investigation in 2018
The investigation was stopped at that time. However, Mayorga and Ronaldo agreed out of court, the footballer paid her $ 375,000 and she pledged not to talk about the incident.
In August 2018, Mayorga turned again to the police in Las Vegas. She asked that her case be resumed - and also named Ronaldo's name. Shortly thereafter, she made the allegations in the SPIEGEL public, who had already reported in 2017 in the course of football leaks research on the case.
The focus of the reporting last year was a questionnaire about the evening that Ronaldo's lawyers had created. It comes in different versions, in one of the following statements by Ronaldo are logged: "She has repeatedly said no and stop." Or: "Afterwards she said: 'You asshole, you forced me, you idiot, I'm not like the others.' I said 'sorry'. " Ronaldo's lawyers described the leaked questionnaires as counterfeits.
"The prosecution usually only opens very safe procedures"
For the district prosecutor's office obviously the documents and the statements of Mayorgas were not enough. The questionnaire is not mentioned in the press release. "The criminal prosecution in the US is much more complex and expensive than in Germany, which is why the public prosecutor's office usually only opens very safe procedures, with only an average of five percent of all criminal cases going to court," says criminal justice expert Wörner.
Theoretically, the criminal procedure could be resumed in the future. For example, when new evidence emerges that changes the opinion of the district prosecutor. But it is unlikely that this will happen.
For the civil process, the decision is irrelevant. "The judges and the jury of the civil process are completely free from criminal proceedings in their actions and their self-image," says Wörner: "Neither the proceedings nor the outcome of the criminal proceedings should have any influence on the civil proceedings. However, in proceedings that are publicly debated in the media, it is often not easy to keep jury members away from information and thus ensure objectivity.
What happens in civil proceedings?
It can not be ruled out that the case may be judged differently by the civil court than by the Clark County Procuratorate. Because in the civil process is not the principle "Beyond reasonable doubt", but "preponderance of evidence". This means that Ronaldo's guilt must be more probable than his innocence. This was also emphasized by Leslie Mark Stovall, lawyer of the alleged victim, told SPIEGEL.
As an example, here is the case of US footballer O. J. Simpson, who was charged in 1995 with murdering his former wife and boyfriend. He was acquitted in the criminal trial, but was convicted in a civil case for paying several million dollars.
Mayorga's lawyer recently said that he also considered it possible that the case might end up in a non-public tribunal. This is a kind of pre-trial procedure in which an arbitrator - who does not have to be a judge - tries to mediate. Of course, there is no longer any imprisonment there, but pain compensation.