Cristiano Ronaldo says the explosive rape allegation levelled at him “hurt his honour” but that his “innocence has been proven” after US cops dropped the case.
The Portuguese footballer, 34, was accused of sexually assaulting Kathryn Mayorga, 35, in June 2009 in a Las Vegas hotel room – claims he strongly denies.
Ronaldo broke his silence on the case in an interview on Portuguese channel TVi after it emerged he will not face criminal charges after US police could not find enough evidence.
However, he is still battling an ongoing civil suit filed by the ex-model who now works as a teacher.
The Juventus superstar addressed how the allegations have impacted him and his family during the interview yesterday.
He said: “When people question your honour, it hurts.
“It hurts a lot mainly because I have a big family, a wife and an intelligent child who understands a lot of things.
“This is a case I’m not comfortable expressing myself on. But once again, my innocence has been proven. It makes me proud.
However, The Times reports that Ronaldo’s lawyers have admitted for the first time that the footballer paid $375,000 to Ms Mayorga the day after his world-record move from Manchester United to Real Madrid was announced.
When she filed a lawsuit last year alleging he had raped her and then ordered “fixers” to obstruct the probe and buy her silence, Ronaldo dismissed it as “fake news.”
Yet, newly filed court documents show he did strike a six-figure settlement and confidentiality agreement with Ms Mayorga in 2010.
The footballer’s lawyer, Peter Christiansen, wrote in a document: “Mr Ronaldo paid [Kathryn Mayorga] the sum of $375,000 and both parties agreed to be bound by explicit confidentiality and non-disparagement obligations.”
Ronaldo’s legal team say the massive cash payment was made to maintain confidentiality and was not an acceptance of liability.
Ms Mayorga met Ronaldo – then a 24-year-old Manchester United ace – at nightclub in Vegas 10 years ago.
Footage showed them dancing in the VIP area of Rain nightclub inside the glamorous Palms Casino Resort – where then 25-year-old Ms Mayorga worked.
Ms Mayorga claimed the £100m star then raped her in his luxury suite before paying her £295,000 in “hush money”.
But the 34-year-old football star has long denied allegation he attacked Ms Mayorga.
Lawyers revealed in July they will “decline to prosecute” 10-year-old claims against the striker because the allegations “cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt”.
In June 2009, alleged victim Kathryn Mayorga called cops to report she had been the victim of sexual assault.
She refused to name her alleged attacker and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department closed the case after losing vital video evidence.
However, the former model last year named the ex-Manchester United and Real Madrid forward star as the offender and the department reopened their sexual assault investigation.
In the same interview yesterday, Ronaldo admitted he could be in the last season of his career – but also reckons he might go on for another SEVEN years.
Ronaldo made his professional debut way back in 2002 and has enjoyed a glittering career with Sporting, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus.
The Portugal international remains in outstanding shape and shows no sign of relenting as a player, but in a recent interview he hinted he might be ready to hang his boots up.
Ronaldo told Portuguese TV station TV1: “I don’t think about that (retirement).
“Maybe I can leave my career next year … but I can also play up to 40 or 41.
“I don’t know. What I always say is to enjoy the moment.
“The gift is excellent and I have to continue to enjoy it.”