World Cup winner branded ‘predator’ as rape trial begins
A prosecutor branded Manchester City left back Benjamin Mendy a "predator" at the start of his trial in the UK, which sees him accused of eight counts of rape, one count of attempted rape, and another single count of sexual assault.
Mendy has denied all the charges, but is alleged to have committed the crimes between October 2018 and August 2021 against seven different young women.
Opening the case for the prosecution, Timothy Cray QC said it had "very little to do with football" and is more about men who "rape and sexually assault women, because they think they are powerful, and because they think they can get away with it".
Cray claimed that the victims were "disposable" to Mendy, who is standing trial with his compatriot Louis Saha Matturie.
Matturie's alleged offenses occurred between July 2012 and August 2021, and have seen him charged with eight counts of rape and four counts of sexual assault on eight young women, which he denies.
Cray described Saha as Mendy’s friend and fixer, whose job it was "to find young women and to create the situations where those young women could be raped and sexually assaulted".
"The acts that the defendants did together show callous indifference to the women they went after," Cray said to the court.
"In their minds, and this could not be clearer, the stream of women they brought to their homes existed purely to be pursued for sex," he further claimed, while telling jurors that they are set to hear from 13 different women at the trial expected to last up to 15 weeks.
Cray said that the defendants' alleged pursuit of the 13 women made them "predators" and men that were "prepared to commit serious sexual offenses" who "would not take 'no' for an answer," which he stressed jurors will "hear time and time again".
"Vulnerable, scared, isolated – these are words you'll hear from lots of the witnesses," he also told the jury.
"Ask yourselves, as you get under the skin of what was happening, who had the power and control in the situations these women experienced and you will hear about?" Cray posed.
Mendy, who joined the club from Monaco in 2017, hasn't played for Manchester City since being suspended in summer last year after police charged him.
Remanded in custody from August 26 onwards when he was charged with four counts of rape and one charge of sexual assault, he was later released on bail on January 7 and made to surrender his passport.
A part of France's 2018 World Cup-winning team in Russia, Mendy will not play any part in Les Bleus' defense of their title in Qatar later this year.