Soccer world champion Benjamin Mendy, accused of rape in England, was portrayed by prosecutors on Monday as a “predator” who abused “vulnerable, frightened and isolated” victims.
• Also read: England: French footballer Benjamin Mendy released under judicial supervision accused of rape
• Also read: World soccer champion Benjamin Mendy charged with rape
The 28-year-old French defender, who has been banned by Manchester City for a year, appears in Chester, north England, on charges of eight counts of rape, one attempted rape and one sexual assault on seven women.
He denies the ten counts of the charges, which relate to facts that allegedly took place at his home in Prestbury, Cheshire, between October 2018 and August 2021. He faces life imprisonment.
Benjamin Mendy is on trial alongside another man, Louis Saha Matturie – unrelated to former footballer Louis Saha – who was charged with eight counts of raping and four sexually assaulting eight women between July 2012 and August 2021. He also pleaded not guilty.
After two initial days of hearings devoted to selecting the jury and arranging the hearings, the court returned to the heart of the matter Monday as the indictment began.
“The case is simple,” prosecutor Timothy Cray told the jury. “It has nothing to do with football. This is indeed another chapter in a very old story: men who rape and attack women because they believe they have power and because they believe they can get away with it.”
He called the two accused “predators willing to commit serious sexual abuse” on younger victims, “vulnerable, frightened and isolated,” noting that some women’s phones may have been confiscated when they got to the player’s home went.
Other victims also reported feeling trapped in rooms, the prosecutor added.
“Who had the power?”
“Ask yourself,” he asked the jury, “who had power and control in the situations these women were going through?”
Mr Cray also shed light on the links between Mr Mendy and Mr Saha, which until then had been rather unclear. Mr Saha, a friend of Mendy’s, was thus responsible for “finding young women and creating situations where they could be raped and sexually assaulted”.
At the time, Mendy was “enjoying a period of success and enjoying a life of privilege.” “The doors of restaurants and nightclubs were open to him, people wanted to be with him” and “Saha was part of this world, contacted the girls, called them,” the accusation specified.
The defendants, according to the prosecutor, “knew very well what they were doing” and were “always willing to cross the line” of consent.
“In our day and age, no one can ignore the fact that + no + means + no +,” Mr. Cray recalled, regardless of whether you were “at the bar, in your evening dress or at a footballer’s house”.
The much-publicized trial, taking place at Chester Crown Court in south-west Manchester, is expected to last more than three months.
Winner of the 2018 World Cup with the French team, where he played the role of a good comrade if not a key player, Benjamin Mendy spent more than four months, from August 2021 to January 2022, in detention.
After his release in early January, he was placed under judicial supervision pending trial.
Benjamin Mendy was trained in Le Havre, unveiled in Marseille and spent a season at Monaco. In 2017, Benjamin Mendy became the most expensive defender in history when Citizens paid £52million (about CAD$81.23million) for his services.