The magistrate found that the alleged victim’s attorney had acted in bad faith.
A federal magistrate has found that a Las Vegas attorney acted in bad faith while representing a woman who sued soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo for rape.
According to The Associated Press, Magistrate Judge Daniel Albregts blamed Kathryn Mayorga’s attorney, Leslie Mark Sovall, for basing his civil damages request off the $375,000 in so-called “hush money” Mayorga received from Ronaldo in 2010.
While Albregts’ decision is not binding, his finding will be considered—and likely executed—by the district judge overseeing the lawsuit.
In his ruling, Albregts determined that the damages were calculated using leaked and stolen documents, which were later shown to be privileged communications between Ronaldo and his attorneys.
“Dismissing Mayorga’s case for the inappropriate conduct of her attorney is a harsh result,” Albregts wrote in a 23-page recommendation to U.S. District Judge Jennifer Dorsey. “But it is, unfortunately, the only appropriate sanction to ensure the integrity of the judicial process.”
“Stovell has acted in bad faith to his client’s—and his profession’s—detriment,” the magistrate added.
Albregts further observed that the court did not find Ronaldo had committed a crime; neither did it see any compelling evidence to show that Ronaldo and his representatives had “intimidated Mayorga or impeded law enforcement” when she agreed to drop criminal charges against the athlete and accept a $375,000 confidential settlement.
Mayorga—who has given media outlets permission to publish her name—is a former model who met Ronaldo in a Las Vegas nightclub in 2009. She accompanied him, along with several other people, to the soccer player’s hotel, where she alleges that he sexually assaulted her in the bedroom of his suite.
While Ronaldo and his attorneys acknowledged that he did have intercourse with Mayorga, they maintain that the encounter was entirely consensual.
The Las Vegas prosecutor’s office declined to pursue charges after Mayorga filed her initial complaint, because she refused to name who her assailant was—although her comments made it clear she was talking about Ronaldo.
The settlement became public in 2017, after the German news outlet Der Spiegel published an article entitled “Cristiano Ronaldo’s Secret.” The report was obtained from a whistleblower known as Football Leaks.
Stovall, adds The Las Vegas Review-Journal, based his claims calculations on Der Spiegel’s report, and defended his actions by saying that he had not stolen documents because he had nobody to steal them from.
“Mayorga’s case against Ronaldo would probably not exist had Stovall not asked for the Football Leaks documents,” Albregts wrote.
“There is no possible way for this case to proceed where the court cannot tell what arguments and testimony are based on these privileged documents,” he added.
Peter Christiansen, one of Ronaldo’s Las Vegas-based attorneys, told The Associated Press that he and his client are “pleased with the court’s detailed review […] and its willingness to justly apply the law to the facts and recommended dismissal of the civil case against Mr. Ronaldo.”
Ronaldo, adds The Las Vegas Review-Journal, is, at 36, one of the “most recognized and highly paid” athletes in his sport.