The judge found that an attorney for the plaintiff circulated and cited privileged communications between Ronaldo and his own counsel.
A federal judge has dismissed a multi-million-dollar sexual assault lawsuit against international soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo, finding that the plaintiff’s attorney had acted in bad faith.
According to NBC News, U.S. District Judge Jennifer Dorsey dismissed the case on Friday, seeking to punish attorney Leslie Mark Stovall for “bad-faith conduct.”
When filing the lawsuit, Stovall allegedly used leaked and stolen documents—some of which detailed privileged communications between Ronaldo and his own attorneys.
In her dismissal, Dorsey said that Stovall’s wrongdoing had essentially tainted the case beyond redemption.
Dorsey also opined that, while dismissing a lawsuit with prejudice is itself a severe sanction, it appears that Ronaldo himself was harmed by Stovall’s misconduct.
“I find that the procurement and continued use of these documents was bad faith, and simply disqualifying Stovall will not cure the prejudice to Ronaldo because the misappropriated documents and their confidential contents have been woven into the very fabric of [plaintiff Kathryn] Mayorga’s claims,” Dorsey wrote in a 42-page ruling. “Harsh sanctions are merited.”
As LegalReader.com has reported before, Mayorga’s civil lawsuit was first filed in a Nevada court in 2018, before it moved to federal court the following year.
Mayorga alleged that Ronaldo or his associates had violated the terms of a confidentiality agreement, subsequent to Der Spiegel’s publication of an article entitled “Cristiano Ronaldo’s Secret.”
Ronaldo’s legal team said any information contained in the article had been obtained through electronic data leaks and security breaches.
In here complaint, Mayorga—a former model and teacher living in the Las Vegas area—said she met Cristiano Ronaldo in a nightclub, after which she accompanied him and several other people to his hotel suite.
Mayorga claims that, after reaching the hotel, Ronaldo sexually assaulted her.
Shortly afterward, Mayorga reported the encounter to the Las Vegas Police Department, but the investigation was dropped when she refused to identify her attacker by name or state where the incident had taken place.
While Ronaldo and his attorneys do not deny that the soccer player met Mayorga, they maintain that the encounter was consensual.
Nevertheless, the athlete’s attorneys paid Mayorga approximately $375,000 as part of a confidential, out-of-court settlement.
However, Mayorga’s attempts to void the confidentiality settlement in court have long faced resistance, with another federal judge finding that the entire case appeared contingent on the use of illegally appropriated documents.
“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,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Daniel Albregts wrote in 2021.
Algrebts, notes NBC News, handled preliminary and procedural rulings in the case, and recommended to Dorsey that the case be dismissed.
Stovall “acted in bad faith by asking for, receiving, and using the Football Leaks documents to prosecute Mayorga’s case,” Albregts wrote.
The B.B.C. notes that, while most media outlets do not name the alleged victims of sexual assault, Mayorga had earlier provided broad consent to use her name publicly.