15 Sep Rubiales case: Prosecutor seeks protective order
Prosecutors requested a restraining order on Friday to prevent former Spanish football federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales from approaching Spain player Jenni Hermoso, as he appeared in court on sexual assault charges for kissing her on the lips.
Rubiales denied any wrongdoing during the hearing, which was his first court appearance since the investigation into his behaviour following Spain’s Women’s World Cup final win in Sydney, Australia on Aug. 20 began.
Prosecutors filed a lawsuit against Rubiales after Hermoso decided to make a formal complaint, and the suit, on charges of sexual assault and coercion, was accepted by judge Francisco de Jorge, who summoned Rubiales for questioning.
Rubiales arrived at Spain’s Audiencia Nacional — its National Court — at 11.15 a.m. local time, accompanied by his attorney, Olga Tubau.
He made no comment to journalists gathered outside the court’s entrance.
The restraining order state prosecutors seek would prohibit Rubiales from coming within 500 meters of Hermoso or trying to communicate with her, as well as a requirement for him to check in with a court every 15 days to ensure he does not flee the country. The judge will have to decide whether to apply those measures.
“We maintain what we’ve said from the beginning. It was a non-consensual kiss,” Hermoso’s lawyer Carla Vall i Duran told reporters later. “Thanks to the [images of the kiss], the entire world, the entire country, has been able to observe there was no type of consent. And we are going to prove that in the courtroom.
“We’re at a very early stage in this case. I’m not going to repeat what was said inside,” she added. “We — and the state prosecutors — have asked for an injunction, but we’ll wait for the judge’s ruling. I won’t go into details.
“Logically, Ms. Hermoso feels affected by what happened, by the degrading act she experienced in the stadium which has tarnished this sporting achievement.”
Rubiales finally bowed to pressure to resign from his position last Sunday, citing FIFA’s decision to begin disciplinary proceedings against him and hand him a 90-day suspension, and the potential impact of the scandal on Spain’s bid to host the 2030 men’s World Cup.
He is facing a charge of sexual assault over the kiss, and a charge of coercion over allegations that he subsequently pressurised Hermoso and her family to defend him.
In a letter announcing his resignation from the RFEF presidency on Sunday, Rubiales said he would fight to prove his innocence.
“My intentions were noble [and] 100% non-sexual,” he told Piers Morgan in an interview broadcast on Tuesday. “There was no harm, no sexual content, no aggression, nothing like that… I made a mistake, I apologise, but let’s be clear, under no circumstance is this sexual aggression.”
Hermoso has said that the kiss was not consensual and made her feel “vulnerable and a victim of an impulse-driven, sexist act.”
After Rubiales initially refused to resign, the 23 members of Spain’s World Cup winning squad — as well as 58 other players — said they would not return to play for their country under the current federation leadership.
The Associated Press and EFE reported on Friday that 41 players had signed a statement saying they would continue their boycott as they seek further changes at the RFEF.
Information from Reuters and The Associated Press was used in this report.