Dani Alves, sentenced to four and a half years in prison for sexual assault

BARCELONA.- Brazilian soccer player Dani Alves was found guilty Thursday of sexually assaulting a woman at a nightclub in Barcelona and was sentenced to four years and six months in prison.

A three-judge panel of the Barcelona Provincial Court convicted the former Barça and Brazil national team defender for an incident that occurred on December 31, 2022.

In addition, Alves must pay compensation of 150,000 euros ($162,000) to the victim and will not be able to approach the woman’s home or workplace, or contact her by any means, for nine years.

Alves was summoned by the court to hear the verdict and sentence. His lawyer, Inés Guardiola, said they will appeal the ruling.

The victim said that Alves raped her in the bathroom of an exclusive nightclub in Barcelona in the early hours of December 31, 2022. The court considered it proven that the woman had not consented to the relationship and that there was evidence, in addition to the testimony of the accused, of that had been forced.

During the three-day trial earlier this month, Alves denied raping the woman, saying, “I’m not that kind of man.”

The prosecution requested a sentence of nine years in prison while the private prosecution demanded 12. The defense requested his acquittal or, if convicted, a one-year sentence and compensation of 50,000 euros ($54,000) to the victim.

Prosecutors said Thursday that they will study the ruling before considering a possible appeal to a higher court.

Alves has been in prison since his arrest on January 20, 2023. His requests for bail were rejected because the court considered him to be a flight risk. Brazil does not extradite its citizens convicted abroad.

The victim told prosecutors that she danced with Alves and entered the nightclub’s bathroom of her own free will, but later she wanted to leave and he wouldn’t let her. According to her version, the soccer player slapped her, insulted her and forced her to have sexual relations against her will.

Alves modified his defense during the investigation phase of the case, when he was already detained. At first he denied any sexual contact with the woman, but later admitted that they had sexual relations that, according to him, were consensual. The footballer pointed out that his initial refusal was intended to save his marriage.

During the trial, his defense focused on trying to show that Alves was drunk when he met the woman.

The conviction compromises Alves’ legacy as one of the most successful footballers in the world.

The winger has won dozens of major titles with several elite clubs such as Barcelona, ​​Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain. He also helped Brazil win the Copa América twice and Olympic gold at age 38. In 2022 he competed in his third World Cup, the only major title he has not won.

He played for Barcelona from 2008 to 2016 and briefly returned to the Blaugrana club in 2022. He still has a house near the city.

When he was arrested he was a member of the Mexican Pumas, which terminated his contract immediately.

The Alves case was the first high-profile sexual case tried in Spain since legislation was revised in 2022 to make consent, or the lack thereof, fundamental in the definition of a sexual assault following protests over a rape case. group during the San Fermín festivities, in Pamplona, ​​in 2016.