Colombia and Boca Juniors star Sebastián Villa has been formally charged with rape and sexual assault against a young woman in 2021, judicial sources have confirmed.
Villa, 26, was notified of his indictment for the crime of “sexual abuse with carnal access,” otherwise known as rape, by Prosecutor Vanesa González of Lomas de Zamora, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.
The woman, whose identity and nationality remains unknown, testified for several hours before the court on Monday and left afterwards with her face covered and without making any statements to the press.
“She is scared to death,” said her legal representative told reporters, who alleged she had also been threatened by Villa in an effort to coerce her into silence.
This is not the first allegations of this nature to have been aired against Villa. The Boca star was previously accused of gender violence in 2020 after a complaint from his then-partner, Colombian Daniela Cortés, denouncing physical and psychological abuse.
Earlier this week, local media reported that the prosecutor in the case offered the footballer a two-year suspended sentence in exchange for him accepting responsibility for his actions.
This latest accusation refers to events that allegedly occurred on June 26, 2021. According to the young woman's testimony, on that day the footballer, in a drunken state, attacked her after a dinner at a friend's house.
“We were lying down because we were going to bed like a regular night. Sebastián had had more than a bottle of whiskey. He was caressing me on my face, when suddenly he becomes violent, he squeezes my jaw and the back of my neck hard, slaps me and says ‘Did you like my teammates?’” she testified.
“Once the sexual subjugation was over, I started to cry uncontrollably and begged him to let me leave, to which he told me that I could not leave until I calmed down,” she claimed.
The following day, the woman was treated at a public hospital in Buenos Aires where she was advised to file a report by doctors. She refused out of fear, according to her lawyer.
Zambrano linked to attack
The accuser also named another Boca player in her statement, Peruvian defender Carlos Zambrano, whom she indirectly linked to an attempt to cover-up the attack the woman claims to have suffered.
According to her account, Villa attempted to maintain contact and tried to persuade her from making a criminal complaint. She alleges she was told by him: “Zambrano knows where you live; you also have a lot to lose."
The woman, who is the mother of a young child, also said that Villa tried to bribe her with US$5,000 to prevent her from formally denouncing him.
Legal proceedings were finally initiated Friday, when the woman filed a complaint that was referred to the Decentralised and Specialised Prosecutor's Office for Crimes of Gender Violence. Prosecutors at the body later filed a request with the courts asking for Villa to be prohibited from leaving Argentina and approaching the complainant.
At present, there is not a warrant out for his arrest.
‘My whole body hurts’
On Thursday, the Noticias Argentinas news agency reported that WhatsApp messages between Villa and the young woman, allegedly exchanged in the aftermath of the alleged crime, had leaked online.
The messages, circulated via screen captures, show Villa responding to claims of violence and admitting that he was intoxicated.
In the images, when the woman informs the player that her body was bruised from the violence he allegedly exerted on her, the following exchange can be read:
Villa: And with what?
Woman: You don’t remember?
Villa: In the buttocks? I drank a lot yesterday
Woman: I told you that you were hurting me
Villa: I’m sorry
In a second screen capture, the woman reproaches him for his actions, and the following exchange occurs:
Villa: Really? What a pity
Woman: My whole body hurts.
‘At the disposal’
Villa's club has come under heavy criticism for its response to the allegations. Boca have not suspended Villa from its playing squad and even used him in their team in a crunch game earlier this week.
After the accusation was made public, the Buenos Aires side released a statement in which they said they had placed themselves “at the disposal” of the young woman and ratified “their commitment in gender and equality situations."
Controversially, the player was also wished a happy 26th birthday via social media on Thursday – a move that drew the ire of fans and anti-gender violence campaigners alike.
The allegations against the player were first made known last Friday, one day before the crunch semi-final of the Copa de la Liga Profesional tournament.
Boca went on to defeat Racing Club on penalties 6-5, advancing to Sunday night's final against Tigre.
During the game, in which Villa was a starter, the Colombian was insulted several times by Racing fans who alluded to the rape accusation in chants and songs.