A woman who claims she was raped by Cristiano Ronaldo was encouraged to launch legal action after the rise of the #MeToo movement, her lawyer has said.
The Juventus forward is being sued by the woman in the United States, who claims he assaulted her in the penthouse suite of a Las Vegas hotel in 2009.
She also alleges the former Manchester United player dispatched a team of “fixers” to obstruct the criminal investigation and trick her into keeping quiet for 375,000 US dollars (£268,000).
Ronaldo has firmly denied the allegations, saying it “goes against everything that I am and believe in”.
Speaking to reporters in Nevada on Wednesday, lawyer Leslie Stovall said the woman suffers depression and post-traumatic stress linked to the alleged incident, but was encouraged to launch legal action after seeing others do the same.
He said: “Yes the #MeToo movement and the women who have stood up and disclosed sexual assaults publicly has given (her) a lot of courage and has, to a great extent, enabled her to come forward, and to file her civil complaint and also to go to the police department.”
The lawsuit says the woman asked police to reopen the criminal case last month.
Las Vegas police confirmed to the Associated Press on Monday that they have reopened a sexual assault case from 2009 brought by the woman named in the lawsuit.
Writing on Twitter, Ronaldo said on Wednesday: “I firmly deny the accusations being issued against me. Rape is an abominable crime that goes against everything that I am and believe in.
“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.
“My clear conscious will thereby allow me to await with tranquillity the results of any and all investigations.”
The lawsuit also accuses Ronaldo or those working for him of battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, coercion and fraud, abuse of a vulnerable person, racketeering and civil conspiracy, defamation, abuse of process, breach of contract, and negligence for allowing details of the confidential settlement to leak out.
It asks for general damages, special damages, punitive damages and special relief, each in excess of 50,000 US dollars (£38,000), along with interest, lawyer fees and court costs.
The #MeToo campaign was sparked by the emergence of allegations of serious abuse by movie mogul Harvey Weinstein in October last year.
Several high-profile stars, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Ashley Judd and Jennifer Lawrence – came forward to say they too had been victims of inappropriate behaviour.
Ronaldo, who missed Juventus’ Champions League win over Young Boys on Tuesday due to a play-related suspension, is expected to start against Udinese in their Serie A clash on Saturday.