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Restraining order imposed on former Spanish football manager as he testifies in assault investigation

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By Emma Pinedo and David Latona

MADRID (RockedBuzz via Reuters) – Spain’s High Court on Friday imposed a restraining order to stop former football boss Luis Rubiales from approaching national team player Jenni Hermoso as he appeared in court to be investigated for sexual assault for kissing her on the lips.

The incident, which occurred during an awards ceremony after the Spanish women’s team won the World Cup in Sydney, Australia, on August 20, sparked a furor over sexism in Spanish sport and society and prompted similar protests to the “Me Too” movement.

Rubiales, 46, insists the kiss was consensual, while Hermoso says it was forced on her.

The order bars Rubiales from attempting to contact Hermoso or come within 200 yards of her, according to a court filing. Judge Francisco de Jorge rejected the prosecution’s request that Rubiales should appear in court every two weeks.

Dressed in a black suit over a white shirt, Rubiales left Madrid’s High Court with his lawyer Olga Tubau after a closed-door investigative hearing that lasted about an hour. He did not speak to the media waiting outside.

During testimony, Rubiales denied the allegations, according to a statement from the prosecutor’s office.

After weeks of resisting calls from players, politicians and women’s groups to step down as president of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), Rubiales finally resigned on September 10.

But he remains unrepentant, saying he acted with consent in a moment of celebration and joy.

On her way to court, local media reported that players, including the World Cup-winning team, intended to continue their boycott of the national team until there were further changes to the federation’s structure.

After Hermoso told prosecutors that Rubiales kissed her on the mouth without her consent while holding her head with both hands — a moment seen by millions on television — prosecutor Marta Durantez Gil filed a complaint judicial.

She added a possible coercion charge after Hermoso said she and her relatives were pressured by Rubiales and her entourage to say she approved of what happened.


De Jorge is leading the investigation, which must precede any formal charges under Spanish law, and will decide whether the case goes to court. If he does so, the sentence will be between one and four years.

“In criminal proceedings, being able to prove consent becomes crucial,” said legal expert Gonzalo Jimenez, partner at law firm Martinez Echevarria.

He said it is important to prove malice or intent to make a sexual act punishable as assault.

De Jorge ordered media outlets, including state broadcaster TVE, to send him footage of the incident and subsequent videos such as one featuring the players celebrating on a bus with Rubiales and referring to the kiss in what appears to be a light-hearted manner. The investigations could last several months.

“We can stand by what we said from the beginning. It was a kiss without consent, everyone saw the images,” Hermoso’s lawyer, Carla Vall, told reporters after the hearing.

The legal case will also be a public test of the left-wing governing coalition’s “Solo sí es sí” (Only yes is yes) law, which places consent at the center of sexual relationships.

Many players, sporting bodies and politicians supported Hermoso in a campaign that coalesced around the hashtag #SeAcabó (It’s over) on social media.

More than 80 of Spain’s top players, including 23 world champions, have refused to play for the national team until there are changes in the formation and style of the RFEF management.

The players told the RFEF on Friday that they will continue the boycott despite Rubiales’ resignation and the replacement of coach Jorge Vilda with his assistant Montse Tome.

Spanish police arrested three young Real Madrid footballers on Thursday on suspicion of distributing a sexual video featuring a minor.

The mother of a 16-year-old from the Canary Islands has lodged a complaint over the video, which she says was filmed without her consent, police said.

(Reporting by Emma Pinedo, Fernando Kallas, David Latona, Marco Trujillo, Elena Rodriguez and Michael Gore; Writing by Charlie Devereux; Editing by Andrei Khalip, Angus MacSwan, Kevin Liffey and Toby Chopra)

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