Cristiano Ronaldo on Wednesday denied accusations by a former American model that he raped her in a Las Vegas hotel in 2009 and said his conscience is clear.
But lawyers for his accuser Kathryn Mayorga later hit back, saying their client had been “very consistent” in her reporting of the incident.
The case has threatened to tarnish the reputation of the Portuguese superstar, arguably the world’s best footballer.
“I firmly deny the accusations being issued against me,” he tweeted in Portuguese and English.
“Rape is an abominable crime that goes against everything that I am and believe in,” said the 33-year-old Juventus forward.
“Keen as I may be to clear my name I refuse to feed the media spectacle created by people seeking to promote themselves at my expense,” Ronaldo said.
“My clear conscious (sic) will thereby allow me to await with tranquillity the results of any and all investigations,” he added on his Twitter feed @Cristiano, which has nearly 75 million followers.
Mayorga, 34, of Las Vegas, accused Ronaldo, in a 32-page complaint filed last month with a district court in Nevada, of raping her on June 13, 2009.
DON’T MISS | Fantasy Premier League Pundit Picks: Gameweek 8
Las Vegas police this week said they were reopening a case filed on that date but did not identify the victim or the alleged perpetrator by name.
Mayorga’s lawyers held a news conference in Las Vegas to discuss the case.
Attorney Leslie Stovall told reporters his client, who had suffered years of trauma as a result of the alleged attack, had found the courage to speak out thanks to the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and assault at the hands of powerful men.
“The MeToo movement and the women who have stood up and disclosed sexual assaults has given Kathryn a lot of courage, and has enabled her to come forward,” he said.
Stovall argued that in the context of the case, the statute of limitations on both criminal and civil action should be set aside.
Mayorga alleges she was pressured into signing a nondisclosure agreement in 2010 to keep the alleged rape secret and is seeking at least $200,000 in penalties and damages.
The complaint was first reported by the German magazine Der Spiegel. Lawyers for Ronaldo have reportedly threatened to sue the magazine over the story.
In the suit, Mayorga said she met Ronaldo, who was then 24 years old, on the evening of June 12, 2009 at the Rain Nightclub in the Palms Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
It said she accepted an invitation to join Ronaldo and others in his penthouse suite to “enjoy the view of the Las Vegas strip.”
She was invited to join guests in a hot tub but declined because she did not have a bathing suit, the complaint said.
Ronaldo offered her clothing and then followed her into a bathroom where she was going to change clothes, it said.
After she refused his demand to perform oral sex and said she wanted to leave, Ronaldo pulled her into a bedroom and anally raped her while she screamed “no, no, no,” according to the suit.
“When Cristiano Ronaldo completed the sexual assault of the plaintiff, he allowed her to leave the bedroom stating he was sorry, he was usually a gentleman,” it said.
The lawsuit said Mayorga reported the alleged assault to police the same day and was examined at a local hospital.
It said the assault left her with “severe emotional and bodily injuries including but not limited to anal contusions, posttraumatic stress disorder and major depression.”
Under pressure from Ronaldo’s “fixers,” Mayorga settled the case “in exchange for a payment of $375,000 and non-disclosure of the sexual assault,” the lawsuit said.
It claimed the agreement should be voided because she was “incompetent and lacked the mental capacity to participate in negotiations and settlement of her claims due to the injuries suffered during the initial sexual assault.”
The unidentified “fixers” were named as co-defendants.
Ronaldo is a five-time winner of FIFA’s men’s player of the year award.
The Portuguese striker left Real Madrid this year to join Juventus for €100 million.