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A U.S. District Judge has dropped a rape lawsuit against Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo after ruling that the accuser’s attorney was guilty of poor conduct.
District Judge Jennifer Dorsey of Las Vegas dismissed the case against Ronaldo, 37, on Friday after claiming that attorney Leslie Mark Stovall tried to use stolen and leaked documents in the case, ESPN reports. Dorsey stated that Stovall, who represents accuser Kathryn Mayorga, showed "bad-faith conduct" by using confidential attorney-client discussions between Ronaldo and his attorney.
"Stovall's repeated use of stolen, privileged documents to prosecute this case has every indicia of bad-faith conduct," the judge said in the ruling, obtained by People.
Several of the documents were included in a 2017 article from the German newspaper Der Speigel. Stovall tried including them in his findings but the court "found that defendant Cristiano Ronaldo had not waived privilege and struck them."
"And because the record shows that he and Mayorga have extensively reviewed these documents and used them to fashion the very basis of Mayorga's claims," Dorsey wrote in the ruling, "simply disqualifying Stovall will not purge the prejudice from their misuse."
Mayorga, a former model, has alleged that Ronaldo raped her in Las Vegas in 2009. She has previously received a $375,000 settlement from Ronaldo, according to ESPN. The most recent lawsuit, filed in 2018, demanded more than $25 million in damages, claiming that Ronaldo or his associates violated a 2010 confidentiality agreement; the 2017 article was included as an example of that violation. Ronaldo's legal team blamed the leaked documents on electronic data leaks and hacking.
Ronaldo's attorney, Peter Christiansen, welcomed the decision to drop the lawsuit.
"We have maintained the action was brought in bad faith," Christiansen’s statement said, according to ESPN. "The outright dismissal of plaintiff's case should give all who follow this matter renewed confidence in the judicial process in this country while dissuading those who seek to undermine it."
Mayorga can appeal the judge's decision.