Lawyers say ‘aggression’ was initial charge against Neymar
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The Brazilian lawyers who first represented an unidentified woman who has accused soccer star Neymar of rape said Tuesday that her initial complaint charged she was a victim of “aggression,” or “physical violence,” by the player, though they added that doesn’t mean authorities couldn’t pursue a prosecution in the case as she reported it to police.
Neymar, who has said he had two encounters with the accuser in France, denies any wrongdoing. He is also being investigated by Rio de Janeiro’s cybercrime division for posting on social media images of the woman without her authorization.
Attorneys Jose Edgard da Cunha Bueno Filho, Francis Ted Fernandes and Andre Castello Branco said in a statement that they believe their former client has solid evidence she suffered what they referred to as “physical violence” at a Paris hotel May 15.
Later, Fernandes added that a private medical report obtained by the woman showed she had bruises, scratches, anxiety and depression. He declined to show the report.
“As to the allegation of rape, that was new to members of our law firm,” the lawyers’ statement said. “Authorities will decide whether it happened or not, they might have a different interpretation from ours.”
Yasmin Abdalla, the attorney now representing the woman, did not respond to a specific question about the allegations made by the woman when she went to police in Sao Paulo on Friday. She told The Associated Press that the previous lawyers “betrayed my client in every way possible,” but did not elaborate.
Jureuda Guerra, who is a member of Brazil’s Federal Psychology Council, and is not connected to the case, said it is not rare for a woman to first allege violence, or sexual violence, by a man and then later add rape to the accusation.
“In Brazil, you stop being a victim and become co-author of the crime in seconds,” Guerra said.
Women who report rape to police in Brazil undergo medical examinations with forensics specialists as quickly as possible to detect possible injuries.
Neither Sao Paulo police nor the accuser’s current lawyer would comment on whether she had a medical examination with a forensics specialist.
In their statement, the woman’s initial legal team said they instructed her to get a private medical report as soon as they took the case.
They also said the woman originally wanted to seek monetary damages in a civil court.
“She said on many occasions that she did not want her name involved in media scandals that could affect her son,” the attorneys said. She wanted the individual “to be contacted by our firm to pay for her medical expenses, psychological treatment and damages that were inflicted,” they said.
The lawyers also said they were invited by Neymar’s representatives to discuss a settlement May 29, but no deal was reached.
“Our attempt at a settlement was rejected by the other side, which left her (the accuser) very shaken,” the statement said. “From then onwards, our former client took a different stance, saying, in an exchange of messages with one of our partners, she had been battered and raped.”
The statement said the woman went to police on her own Friday and filed the rape allegation.
The lawyers said that was “incompatible with the strategy” they had agreed with the woman and the parties ended their legal relationship on Saturday.
Abdalla, the accuser’s current attorney, said the previous lawyers had received threats from Neymar da Silva Santos, the player’s father and agent. The original lawyers and Neymar’s representatives deny that claim.
The original legal team also deny a claim by Neymar’s father that the woman tried to blackmail the player before taking the case to police.
“The meeting only took place because of an invitation from representatives of Neymar Jr.,” the lawyers’ statement said of their May 29 meeting with his representatives. They allege Neymar’s representatives organized the meeting to discuss a settlement in order to later claim the accuser was seeking to extort the player.
Neymar’s spokeswoman, Day Crespo, told AP that “the secrecy of the investigation forbids comments about its details and content.” She also said the player’s legal team is ready to collaborate with the investigation, including providing testimony by Neymar as well as evidence.
Neymar spent Tuesday practicing with Brazil’s national soccer team in preparation for the Copa America tournament. He is expected to play on Wednesday in the team’s friendly match with Qatar in the Brazilian capital, Brasilia.
Police have asked to talk with the player himself about the rape allegation and also the posting of pictures of the woman on social media. Brazil’s soccer confederation asked that the testimony be delayed until next week in Rio de Janeiro.
Associated Press writer Diane Jeantet contributed to this report.