Brazilian soccer star Dani Alves denied accusations that he sexually assaulted a young woman at a Barcelona nightclub, testifying that he’s “not that kind of man.” After two days of listening to testimony from the alleged victim, witnesses, and experts, Alves told a Spanish court on Wednesday that their encounter had been consensual.
His accuser testified that Alves raped her in a bathroom of an upscale nightclub early in the morning of Dec. 31, 2022.
“I am not that type of man; I am not a violent man,” Alves said in response to his defense lawyer if he had forced her to have sexual relations.
The alleged victim told state prosecutors that she danced with Alves and willingly entered the bathroom, but that later when she wanted to leave he would not let her. She said he slapped her, insulted her and forced her to have sexual relations against her will.
Alves denied that.
“She never told me to stop. We were both enjoying ourselves,” Alves said, while repeating that the woman never asked to leave or made any indication that she did not want to have sexual relations with him. He also denied having slapped or insulted her.
State prosecutors are seeking a nine-year prison sentence for Alves if convicted while the lawyers representing his accuser want 12 years. His defense asked for an acquittal, or if found guilty a one-year sentence plus 50,000 euros (USD 54,000) compensation for the victim.
The three-day trial concluded Wednesday. A verdict normally takes weeks to be delivered.
The 40-year-old Alves was escorted in handcuffs into the small courtroom wearing a long-sleeve white sweater, dark trousers and glasses. His mother was present outside, as she has been the entire trial.
His wife was only there Tuesday when she testified that he had arrived home “smelling of alcohol” after the alleged assault.
His accuser testified on Monday behind closed doors on order of the court. State prosecutors asked for the court to take extra measures to protect her identity after a video circulated on social media last month that allegedly identified the woman.
A friend and cousin of the alleged victim who went dancing with her that night told the three-judge panel Monday that after she exited the bathroom she was distraught and told them Alves “hurt her badly.”
Police officers who attended to the alleged victim testified she was greatly shaken and told them she had been sexually assaulted by Alves. The officers said Tuesday she had to overcome her fears that “nobody would believe her” before she formally accused Alves.
One officer said the woman told him “I don’t want money, I want justice.”
Alves’ friend who was with him at the nightclub testified that Alves and the woman showed “chemistry” before going into the bathroom and that he hadn’t noticed anything wrong with the woman afterward. The friend added that the soccer player drank wine and whiskey before going to the nightclub.
Alves’ defense asked the court that his drunken state be considered an extenuating factor for a reduced sentence if he is found guilty.
A forensic psychologist who examined the woman testified Wednesday that she was suffering from “post-traumatic” symptoms, a conclusion that was disputed by an outside expert called by the defense.
The state prosecutor concluded her arguments by saying that “we understand that (the accuser’s) version is completely believable.”
This is the first high-profile sex crime trial since Spain overhauled its legislation in 2022 to make consent, or the lack thereof, central to defining a sex crime in response to an upswell of protests after a gang-rape case during the San Fermin bull-running festival in Pamplona in 2016.
The legislation popularly known as the “only yes means yes” law defines consent as an explicit expression of a person’s will, making it clear that silence or passivity do not equal consent.
Alves’ defense lawyer, Ines Guardiola, based her closing argument on video evidence from the nightclub’s security cameras that she said showed how the woman danced “with sexualized movements” that “showed her interest” before the alleged assault.
Ester Garcia, the woman’s lawyer, said in her closing argument that the new law made her client’s lack of consent once inside the bathroom key to the case, as well as making irrelevant how her client may have danced with Alves beforehand.
“I don’t care (how she was dancing), when she said no’, that meant no.’ That is why the law was changed,” Garcia said. “The debate is no longer whether the victim put up resistance.”
Alves has been in pre-trial jail since being detained on Jan. 20, 2023. His requests for bail were denied because the court considered him a flight risk. Brazil does not extradite its own citizens when they are sentenced in other countries.
He modified his defense during the investigative phase while in custody, first denying any sexual contact with her before admitting to sexual relations that he said were consensual. He said he had been trying to save his marriage by not admitting to the encounter initially.
Alves was ordered before the trial to set aside 150,000 euros ($162,000) if he is found guilty and ordered to pay damages.
Alves won dozens of titles with elite clubs including Barcelona, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain. He also helped Brazil win two Copa Americas and an Olympic gold medal at age 38.
He played at his third World Cup, the only major title he’s not won, in 2022. He played for Barcelona from 2008-16 and briefly rejoined the club in 2022. He still has a residence near the city.
Mexican club Pumas terminated his contract immediately after his arrest.