On trial for rape in England, world football champion Benjamin Mendy was presented by the prosecution on Monday as a “predator” who abused “vulnerable, terrified and isolated” victims. The 28-year-old French defender, suspended for a year by Manchester City, appears in Chester, in the north of England, for eight rapes, an attempted rape and a sexual assault against seven women. He denies the ten counts which relate to facts which allegedly took place between October 2018 and August 2021 at his home in Prestbury, Cheshire. He faces life imprisonment.
Beginning of the charge sheet
Benjamin Mendy is on trial alongside another man, Louis Saha Matturie – unrelated to former footballer Louis Saha – prosecuted for eight rapes and four sexual assaults on eight women between July 2012 and August 2021. He also pleaded not guilty . After two first days of trial devoted to the choice of jurors and the organization of hearings, the court returned to the heart of the matter on Monday with the start of the prosecution’s statement.
“The case is simple,” prosecutor Timothy Cray told jurors. “It doesn’t have much to do with football. It is indeed another chapter in a very old story: men who rape and assault women because they think they have power and because they think they’ll get away with it.”
He called the two defendants “predators ready to commit serious sexual abuse” on younger victims, “vulnerable, terrified and isolated”, pointing out that some women’s phones may have been confiscated when they visited the player’s home. . Other victims also reported feeling like they were locked in rooms, the prosecutor added.
Defendants willing to cross boundaries of consent, says prosecutor
“Ask yourself,” he challenged the jurors, “who had power and control in the situations these women experienced?” Timothy Cray also shed light on the links between Benjamin Mendy and Louis Saha Matturie, which until then had been rather vague. Louis Saha Matturie, a friend of Mendy, was thus responsible for “finding young women and creating situations where they could be raped and sexually assaulted”.
At the time, Mendy was experiencing “a period of success and enjoying a privileged life”. “The doors of restaurants and nightclubs were open to him, people wanted to be with him” and “Saha was part of this world, contacting the girls, calling them”, detailed the accusation. According to the prosecutor, the defendants “knew very well what they were doing” and were “willing to cross the line” of consent “again and again”.
A trial that should last more than three months
“In our time, no one can ignore that ‘no’ means ‘no'”, recalled Timothy Cray, whether you are “at the bar, in evening dress or at a footballer’s home”. The high-profile trial taking place at Chester Crown Court, south-west Manchester, is expected to last more than three months. Winner of the 2018 World Cup with the France 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 pre-trial detention.
Released in early January, he was placed under judicial supervision pending trial. Trained in Le Havre, revealed in Marseille and spent a season with Monaco, Benjamin Mendy became the most expensive defender in history in 2017 when the Citizens paid 52 million pounds (about 61.4 million euros at the current price). ) to secure his services.