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Soccer star Dani Alves guilty of rape, sentenced to four and a half years in prison

Former soccer star Dani Alves was found guilty of raping a woman in a Barcelona nightclub and sentenced to prison.

Brazilian soccer star Dani Alves has been found guilty of raping a woman in a Barcelona nightclub and has been sentenced to four years and six months in prison. The former Barcelona right back was convicted under a new sexual liberty law in Spain that focuses on the lack of consent from the victim as a determining factor in sex crimes.

A three-judge panel at the Barcelona Provincial Court convicted the 40-year-old Alves of sexual assault for an incident that occurred on December 31, 2022. In addition to his prison sentence, Alves has been ordered to pay 150,000 euros (USD 162,000) in compensation to the victim. He has also been banned from approaching the victim's home or place of work and from communicating with her for nine years.

Alves' lawyer, Inés Guardiola, expressed her belief in his innocence and stated that they would be appealing the verdict. She described Alves as being "calm and collected" upon hearing the court's decision.

On the other hand, a member of the victim's legal team, David Sáenz, expressed satisfaction with the verdict, stating that it recognized the truth of the victim's experience and the suffering she had endured. The victim's lawyer, Ester García, confirmed that she and her client would not be present for the verdict.

The victim accused Alves of raping her in a Barcelona nightclub bathroom, and the court found that she did not consent to the sexual encounter. Alves denied the accusation during the trial, stating "I am not that kind of man." The prosecution sought a nine-year prison sentence for Alves, while the victim's lawyers requested 12 years. Alves' defense team asked for his acquittal or, if found guilty, a one-year sentence and 50,000 euros in compensation for the victim.

The court's sentence of four years and six months is near the lowest sentence for a rape conviction under Spanish law. The court took into account the fact that Alves had paid 150,000 euros to the victim before the trial, but the victim's legal team argued that this money did not compensate for the harm done to their client, who has been suffering from post-traumatic stress.

Spain's Deputy Prime Minister Yolanda Díaz expressed hope that the verdict would serve as an example for addressing sexist behaviors and violence against women. The case of Dani Alves was the first high-profile sex crime since Spain reformed its legislation in 2022 to emphasize consent in defining sex crimes.

The former equality minister who championed the "only yes means yes" law, Irene Montero, welcomed the ruling, stating that it establishes that Alves committed sexual assault because the victim did not consent.

Alves' defense team based their argument on nightclub security camera footage, which they claimed showed the victim dancing with "sexualized movements" that indicated her interest in Alves before the alleged assault. However, the victim's lawyer emphasized that the new law made it irrelevant how the victim may have behaved with Alves beforehand, as the central issue was consent.

Alves has been in jail since his detention on January 20, 2023, and his requests for bail have been denied. The victim reported that she danced with Alves and willingly entered the nightclub bathroom, but later, when she wanted to leave, he allegedly prevented her from doing so, slapped her, insulted her, and forced her to have sexual relations against her will. Alves has the right to appeal the verdict, and the state prosecutor's office is considering whether to appeal as well.

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