Guardian UK: The former Manchester City footballer Benjamin Mendy has asked for privacy to “rebuild his life” after being found not guilty of raping one woman and attempting to rape another.
The former French international wept as a jury cleared him after a retrial at Chester crown court.
The acquittals mean the 28-year-old defender has now been found not guilty of all of the allegations made against him by six women, which destroyed his football career.
He has cleared his name but is unemployed after his Manchester City contract expired at the end of June. The Premier League club stopped paying him in September 2021, shortly after he was charged, though the manager, Pep Guardiola, was a character witness at his first trial, where he described Mendy as a “really good boy”.
The women had accused him of assaulting them at his £4.8m gated mansion between October 2018 and August 2021, often at illegal parties held during Covid lockdowns.
He was cleared in January of raping four women and sexually assaulting another, with the jury unable to reach verdicts on two outstanding charges, prompting the retrial.
He was acquitted on Friday of trying to rape a woman who came to his house with a friend of his, another French footballer, Diacko Fofana. She said Mendy tried to rape her when she got out of the shower, but he said they flirted and that he withdrew as soon as she said no.
He was also cleared of raping a woman he had met at a bar in Alderley Edge, an upmarket Cheshire suburb.
During his first four-month trial at Chester crown court, Mendy maintained that the women had wanted to have sex with him. He told the jury it was “normal” for him to sleep with lots of different women, sometimes on the same night as they had had sex with his friends.
Being a famous footballer made it “honestly, so easy” to pick up women at nightclubs and take them to his home near the Cheshire village of Prestbury, he said.
Some of the women said they were made to give in their phones after arriving at the house and felt unable to call for help. But Mendy said he only asked guests to put their phones in a box because he was concerned about privacy, particularly when holding lockdown-busting parties, and that the women could have their phones back whenever they wanted.
The parties were fuelled by alcohol and nitrous oxide balloons and often involved guests stripping down in Mendy’s pool. People would have sex in rooms all over the house, sometimes swapping partners.
Mendy admitted not wearing a condom during any of the encounters, saying that while he knew the risks he “didn’t worry” about catching or passing on sexually transmitted diseases. The morning after having sex with a 17-year-old he texted her to ask if she had taken the “morning after” pill.
He has one child with a former partner, the court heard, but was determined to avoid getting into a relationship while playing for City.
Mendy was first arrested in November 2020 after a young woman accused him of raping her a few weeks earlier after she met him in a bar in Alderley Edge, alongside the England player Jesse Lingard.
Mendy was released under investigation and then arrested again on 4 January 2021 after a second woman reported him to the police, accusing him of sexually assaulting her at a party at his home on 2 January 2021.
He was bailed on the condition that he did not hold parties at his home and continued to play for Manchester City. Yet the court heard that he continued to invite women back to his mansion after nights out in Manchester. Asked why he ignored his bail conditions, Mendy said it was because he did not think he had done anything wrong.
It was during one such afterparty, on 23 August 2021, that the 17-year-old accused him of rape. She went to the police shortly afterwards and Mendy was charged on 26 August and remanded to prison. It was only then that he was suspended and put on unpaid leave by Manchester City. Until then, the club had paid his wages, estimated at £90,000 a week.
Mendy joined City from Monaco for £52m in 2017, a world-record fee for a defender at the time.
Giving evidence at Chester crown court, Mendy said that being in prison while on remand had made him “learn lots of things about life”. He said that he reflected on his behaviour while sitting in his cell, and realised only then that it was possible to hurt women’s feelings even “if we were both OK to have sex”. The way he had sometimes spoken about women was “disrespectful”, he realised.
Talking in strongly accented English, Mendy said he began to receive attention from women when he was 18 and playing for Marseille, which became “10 times more” intense when he joined Manchester City.
He acknowledged that women were attracted to him because of his job. “The way they came to me, it’s not because of my look, it’s because of football,” he said.
After his acquittal on Friday, Mendy’s lawyer, Jenny Wiltshire, said: “Benjamin Mendy would like to thank the members of the jury for focusing on the evidence in this trial, rather than on the rumour and innuendo that have followed this case from the outset.
“This is the second time that Mr Mendy has been tried and found not guilty by a jury. He is delighted that both juries reached the correct verdicts.
“It has been almost three years since the police started investigating this matter. Mr Mendy has tried to remain strong but the process has, inevitably, had a serious impact on him. He thanks everyone who has supported him throughout this ordeal and now asks for privacy so he can begin rebuilding his life.”