US judge dismisses Cristiano Ronaldo rape lawsuit in Vegas

A Nevada woman has lost her bid in a US court to force Cristiano Ronaldo to pay millions of dollars more than the $375,000 in hush money she received after claiming he raped her in Las Vegas in 2009. (AP)
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Updated 11 June 2022

US judge dismisses Cristiano Ronaldo rape lawsuit in Vegas

  • US district judge in Las Vegas kicked the case out of court on Friday to punish the woman’s attorney for “bad-faith conduct”
  • Dorsey said in her 42-page order that dismissing a case outright with no option to file it again is a severe sanction

LAS VEGAS: A Nevada woman has lost her bid in a US court to force international soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo to pay millions of dollars more than the $375,000 in hush money she received after claiming he raped her in Las Vegas in 2009.
US District Judge Jennifer Dorsey in Las Vegas kicked the case out of court on Friday to punish the woman’s attorney, Leslie Mark Stovall, for “bad-faith conduct” and the use of leaked and stolen documents detailing attorney-client discussions between Ronaldo and his lawyers. Dorsey said that tainted the case beyond redemption.
Dorsey said in her 42-page order that dismissing a case outright with no option to file it again is a severe sanction, but said Ronaldo had been harmed by Stovall’s conduct.
“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,” the ruling said. “Harsh sanctions are merited.”
Stovall did not immediately respond Saturday to telephone and email messages. Text messages to associate Larissa Drohobyczer were not answered. They could appeal the decision to the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
Ronaldo’s attorney in Las Vegas, Peter Christiansen, was traveling and was not immediately reachable for comment.
The Associated Press generally does not name people who say they are victims of sexual assault, but Mayorga gave consent through Stovall and Drohobyczer to make her name public.
Dorsey had signaled earlier this year that she was ready to end the case after Stovall failed to meet a procedural deadline in his bid for more than $25 million in damages based on allegations that Ronaldo or his associates violated a 2010 confidentiality agreement by letting reports about it appear in European publications in 2017.
Mayorga’s civil lawsuit — filed in 2018 in state court and moved in 2019 to federal court — alleged that Ronaldo or his associates violated the confidentiality agreement before the German news outlet Der Spiegel published an article titled “Cristiano Ronaldo’s Secret” based on documents obtained from “whistleblower portal Football Leaks.”
Ronaldo’s legal team blamed the reports on electronic data leaks of documents hacked from law firms and other entities in Europe and put up for sale. Christiansen alleged also that information was altered or fabricated.
Christiansen and attorney Kendelee Works in Las Vegas successfully fought since the case emerged in 2018 to prevent the pact from disclosure.
Mayorga is a former model and teacher who lives in the Las Vegas area. Her lawsuit said she met Ronaldo at a nightclub and went with him and other people to his hotel suite, where she alleged he assaulted her in a bedroom. She was 25 at the time. He was 24.
Ronaldo’s legal team does not dispute Ronaldo met Mayorga and they had sex in June 2009, but maintained it was consensual and not rape.
Mayorga went to Las Vegas police at the time, but the investigation was dropped because Mayorga neither identified her alleged attacker by name nor said where the incident took place, police and prosecutors said.
Ronaldo, now 37, is one of the most highly paid and recognizable sports stars in the world. He plays for the English Premier League club Manchester United and has captained the national team of his home country, Portugal. He spent several recent years playing in Italy for the Turin-based club Juventus.
Las Vegas police reopened their rape investigation after Mayorga’s lawsuit was filed, but Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson decided in 2019 not to pursue criminal charges.
Wolfson, the elected public prosecutor in Las Vegas, said too much time had passed and evidence failed to show that Mayorga’s accusation could be proved to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.
Stovall maintained that Mayorga didn’t break the hush-money settlement. Her lawsuit sought to void it, accusing Ronaldo and reputation-protection “fixers” of conspiracy, defamation, breach of contract, coercion and fraud. In documents filed last year, Stovall tallied damages at $25 million plus attorney fees.
The attorney argued that Mayorga had learning disabilities as a child and was so pressured by Ronaldo’s attorneys and representatives that she was in no condition to consent to dropping her criminal complaint and accepting the $375,000 in August 2010.
Dorsey followed recommendations from US Magistrate Judge Daniel Albregts, who handled preliminary and procedural rulings in the case, that it be dismissed for bad faith, “inappropriate conduct” by Stovall and reliance on the leaked and stolen confidential 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,” Albregts said in an October 2021 report to Dorsey.
Stovall “acted in bad faith by asking for, receiving, and using the Football Leaks documents to prosecute Mayorga’s case,” Albregts wrote. He blamed Stovall for “audacious,” “impertinent” and “abusive” attempts to make the confidentiality agreement public through legal maneuvers and the court record and recommended to Dorsey that she reject Stovall’s claim that Mayorga lacked the mental capacity to sign the 2010 agreement.
The 9th Circuit ruled early this year that it would be up to Dorsey to decide that question.
It was not immediately clear in Dorsey’s ruling whether the public might still get a look at the Las Vegas police report compiled about Ronaldo after Mayorga filed her lawsuit in 2018.
Albregts said in March that denying the New York Times access to what police collected “would almost certainly raise the ‘specter of government censorship.’” He recommended that Dorsey transfer to a state court the newspaper’s open-records request for documents.
A protective order that Dorsey imposed to prevent the release of the 2010 agreement doesn’t apply to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Albregts found, and “does not bar LVMPD from disseminating its criminal investigative file.”
Attorney Margaret McLetchie, representing the newspaper, did not immediately respond Saturday to a message about that case.


Putin makes Chechnya’s Kadyrov an army general

Updated 05 October 2022

Putin makes Chechnya’s Kadyrov an army general

  • Kadyrov said Putin had "personally" informed him of the decision
  • "The President of Russia awarded me the rank of colonel general," Kadyrov said on Telegram

MOSCOW: Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, an ally of President Vladimir Putin, said Wednesday he was granted a top rank in Russia’s army, just as Moscow’s forces suffer a series of defeats in Ukraine.
The 46-year-old Chechen leader — one of the most outspoken voices in Russia backing Putin’s Ukraine offensive — said it was a “huge honor” for him.
Kadyrov, a former warlord who rules Chechnya with widespread violations of human rights, said Putin had “personally” informed him of the decision.
“The President of Russia awarded me the rank of colonel general,” Kadyrov said on Telegram. “This is a promotion for me.”
The rank of colonel general is the third highest command rank in the Russian military hierarchy.
Kadyrov’s appointment to the rank came as the Ukrainian army pushed back Moscow’s forces in areas that the Kremlin proclaimed to be “Russian forever.”
The Chechen leader said he would do “everything to end the special military operation quickly” — using the Kremlin’s term for its Ukraine campaign.
Chechen units — including Kadyrov’s own militia with a sinister reputation, the “Kadyrovtsi” — are fighting alongside regular Russian forces in Ukraine.
Kadyrov has thrown his full backing behind Putin’s campaign, regularly calling for the most drastic tactics to be used in Ukraine.
This week he called on Moscow to use low-yield nuclear weapons in Ukraine after Russian troops were forced to retreat from the town of Lyman.
He then said he was sending three of his teenage sons — aged 14,15 and 16 — to the front.


Bus plunges into gorge in northern India, killing at least 25

Updated 05 October 2022

Bus plunges into gorge in northern India, killing at least 25

  • Over 45 to 50 people, all part of a wedding party, were on bus— police 
  • Police say over 110,000 are killed each year in road accidents across India 

NEW DELHI: A bus in northern India plunged into a gorge, leaving at least 25 dead and over a dozen others injured, officials said. Police told the Press Trust of India news agency there were 45 to 50 people on board the bus, all of whom were part of a wedding party, when it fell Tuesday evening into a gorge in Pauri district in Uttarakhand state. State police and the disaster response force worked alongside locals to rescue 21 people Tuesday night at the site of the crash, police chief Ashok Kumar tweeted. Vijay Kumar Jogdande, a senior government officer, said they would be carrying out an investigation into the incident and will conduct postmortem examinations after retrieving the bodies from the site. Officials were seen clearing the area of bushes and trees to help with the rescue operation as they pulled up an injured person. Rescuers also retrieved a dead body using ropes before they were taken away on a stretcher. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said all possible assistance will be given to those affected. “In this tragic hour my thoughts are with the bereaved families. I hope those who have been injured recover at the earliest,” he tweeted Wednesday. Deadly road accidents are common in India due to reckless driving, poorly maintained roads and aging vehicles. More than 110,000 people are killed every year in road accidents across India, according to police.


Ten dead after Indian Himalayas avalanche hits climbers

Updated 05 October 2022

Ten dead after Indian Himalayas avalanche hits climbers

  • Several dozen climbing trainees caught in Tuesday's snowslide near summit of Mount Draupadi ka Danda-II
  • Indian air force and local disaster agency were assisting with rescue efforts before heavy snow and rainfall

New Delhi: Ten people are confirmed dead after an avalanche struck climbers in the Indian Himalayas, police said Wednesday, with 18 other members of the expedition still missing.

Several dozen climbing trainees were caught in Tuesday morning's snowslide near the summit of Mount Draupadi ka Danda-II in the northern state of Uttarakhand.

The Indian air force and local disaster agency were assisting with rescue efforts before heavy snow and rainfall forced them to abandon the search overnight.

"Rescue teams have recovered 10 bodies," the Uttarakhand state police force said on Twitter after operations resumed in the morning.

Fourteen people have so far been rescued from the site of the avalanche, around 4,900 metres (16,000 feet) above sea level, and police said five were being treated at a district hospital in Uttarkashi.

Police footage showed several rescued climbers arriving in the town and walking unassisted while escorted by officers.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami confirmed on Twitter that accomplished climber Savita Kanswal, who had summited Everest earlier this year, was among the dead.

Kanswal was an instructor with the expedition and had been feted by the climbing community for summiting the world's highest peak and nearby Makalu in just 16 days -- a women's record.

Dhami said the government would provide immediate financial assistance to those injured in the avalanche along with the families of victims.

State disaster agency spokesperson Ridhim Aggarwal told AFP that the climbers had been stuck in a crevasse after the avalanche hit.

The Nehru Institute of Mountaineering said the expedition included 34 of its trainees, seven instructors and a nursing assistant.

Two air force helicopters had been sent to the region to assist with the search, senior disaster management official Devendra Singh Patwal told AFP.

Fatal climbing accidents are common on the treacherous terrain of the Himalayas, home to Everest and several of the world's highest peaks.

In August, the body of a mountaineer was recovered two months after he fell into a crevasse while crossing a glacier in the neighbouring state of Himachal Pradesh.

And last week, renowned US ski mountaineer Hilaree Nelson's body was found on the slopes of Nepal's Manaslu peak after she went missing skiing down the world's eighth-highest mountain.

On the day of Nelson's accident, an avalanche hit on the 8,163-metre (26,781-foot) mountain, killing Nepali climber Anup Rai and injuring a dozen others who were later rescued.

Although no substantial research has been done on the impacts of climate change on mountaineering risks in the Himalayas, climbers have reported crevasses widening, running water on previously snowy slopes, and the increasing formation of glacial lakes.


Taliban report mosque blast at government ministry in Kabul

Updated 05 October 2022

Taliban report mosque blast at government ministry in Kabul

  • Explosion takes place inside Interior Ministry’s mosque, no immediate casualties reported
  • Blast follows last week’s attack on education center in Kabul where 52 people were killed 

KABUL, Afghanistan: A blast struck a mosque at a government ministry building in Kabul Wednesday as workers and visitors were praying, a Taliban official said.
The afternoon explosion went off inside the mosque of the Interior Ministry, which is responsible for security and law enforcement in the country.
A Taliban-appointed spokesman for the Interior Ministry, Abdul Nafi Takor, said in a tweet: “Unfortunately there was an explosion inside a(n) ancillary mosque where some Interior Ministry workers and visitors were praying. Will share the details later.”
He did not say if the mosque was inside the ministry or near it. There was no immediate information about casualties and no immediate claim of responsibility.
The mosque blast follows last week’s suicide bombing at an education center in Kabul that killed as many as 52 people, according to a tally compiled by The Associated Press, more than twice the death toll acknowledged by Taliban officials.
The reason for the lower death toll provided by the Taliban was not immediately clear. In the past, they have at times been slow to confirm casualty figures in the aftermath of attacks.
Taliban security officials initially said 19 people had been killed at the Kaaj Higher Educational Center, then revised the death toll to 25 over the weekend.
However, The Associated Press spoke directly to relatives of 39 of those killed and obtained the names and other information about the remaining 13.


Philippines’ Marcos Jr. open to buying Russian fuel, proposes new Myanmar approach

Updated 05 October 2022

Philippines’ Marcos Jr. open to buying Russian fuel, proposes new Myanmar approach

  • The Philippines, a US defense ally, has not imposed any sanctions on Russia
  • Myanmar’s ruling junta has been barred from regional summits

MANILA: Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Wednesday said his nation may need to turn to Russia to fulfil its fuel needs amid rising global energy prices, bucking pressure from Western allies for countries to shun Moscow.
Speaking to the Manila Overseas Press Club, Marcos, who is also agriculture minister, said the Philippines may also deal with Russia for supply of fertilizer.
“We take we take a very balanced view because the truth of the matter is, we may have to deal with Russia for fuel, for fertilizer,” said Marcos.
The Philippines like many countries is grappling with soaring inflation, due to supply woes fanned by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Philippines, a US defense ally, has not imposed any sanctions on Russia.
Marcos, the son and namesake of the ousted late strongman who ruled the Philippines for two decades, also said he wanted his country to play a key role in promoting regional peace, amid challenges posed by North Korea and China-Taiwan tensions.
“We hope to be part of leading, the ones that are leading the effort for peace,” he said.
He said he would propose a new approach to the crisis in Myanmar at an upcoming meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in November, which could involved engaging the military government directly.
Myanmar’s ruling junta has been barred from regional summits over its failure to implement a five-point peace plan it agreed with ASEAN in April last year, after violent turmoil erupted in the country following a military coup.
The generals have been outraged by ASEAN’s unusually tough stand and have said they intend to comply with its plan, but will not agree to its call to hold dialogue with a pro-democracy resistance movement they call “terrorists.” “It’s time to put together, to put forward some concrete proposals on what we can do to at the very least to bring at least representatives of the military government to the table so we can begin to talk about these things,” Marcos said.
On Wednesday, Cambodia, the current ASEAN chair, confirmed that a request had been sent to the State Administrative Council, as the junta is known, that it nominate a non-political figure to represent Myanmar at the upcoming leaders’ summits. “Again, the SAC has refused to send anyone to the summits,” Cambodia Foreign spokesperson Chum Sounry said.