Soccer Star Dani Alves Found Guilty of Nightclub Rape

He was sentenced to 4.5 years in prison
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 22, 2024 4:22 PM CST
Soccer Star Dani Alves Found Guilty of New Year's Eve Rape
Brazilian soccer star Dani Alves sits during his trial in Barcelona, Spain, Monday, Feb. 5, 2024.   (D.Zorrakino/Pool Photo via AP, File)

Dani Alves, one of the most successful soccer players of his generation, was found guilty of raping a woman in a Barcelona nightclub and sentenced to four years and six months in prison on Thursday. The former Brazil and Barcelona right back was convicted in Spain under a new sexual liberty law that emphasizes the lack of consent of the victim as key to determining sex crimes. A three-judge panel at the Barcelona Provincial Court convicted the 40-year-old Alves of sexual assault for the incident on Dec. 31, 2022. Details from the AP:

  • More on the sentence. The court ordered Alves to pay $162,000 in compensation to the victim and banned him from approaching the victim's home or place of work and from communicating with her by any means for nine years.
  • From his lawyer. "I still believe in the innocence of Mr. Alves," Inés Guardiola, Alves' lawyer, said. "I need to study the ruling, but I can tell you that of course we will appeal." Guardiola said Alves was "calm and collected" when he heard the verdict in court.
  • The allegations. The victim told state prosecutors she danced with Alves at a Barcelona nightclub on the morning of Dec. 31, 2022, and willingly entered the nightclub 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. The court considered it proven that the victim did not consent to sex and there was evidence, in addition to the defendant's testimony, that she was raped. Alves denied during the three-day trial this month that he raped the woman, testifying to the court, "I am not that kind of man."

  • The larger picture. The Alves case was the first high-profile sex crime since Spain overhauled its legislation in 2022 to make consent 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.
  • How it applied to this case. Guardiola based her defense during the trial on video from the nightclub security cameras that she said showed how the woman danced "with sexualized movements" that "showed her interest" in Alves before the alleged assault. The victim's lawyer said that the new law made it irrelevant how her client may have behaved with Alves beforehand. "I don't care (how she was dancing), when she said 'No', that meant 'No.'"
  • A legacy shattered. 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 hasn't won, in 2022. He played for Barcelona from 2008-16, and briefly rejoined the club in 2022. He was with Mexican club Pumas when he was arrested. Pumas terminated his contract immediately. Three days after his arrest, Alves was transferred by officials for safety reasons to the Brians 2 prison about 45 minutes northwest of Barcelona. He has been there ever since.
(More Dani Alves stories.)

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