MMA: After criminal case ends without charges, Conor McGregor is sued in Ireland

Conor McGregor has fought just twice in the UFC in the last four years. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (NYTIMES) - Conor McGregor, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) star, has been sued in Ireland by a woman who accused him of raping her in a hotel penthouse in 2018.

The suit was filed on Monday (Jan 18) after the Irish police and prosecutors declined to pursue criminal charges against McGregor, whom they had investigated for more than a year, at one point arresting and questioning him.

Karen Kessler, a spokesman for McGregor, one of the biggest draws in mixed martial arts (MMA), said in a statement that the allegations against McGregor were "categorically rejected" and that he is "confident that justice will prevail" in the civil case.

A lawyer for the woman declined to comment on the details of the case. The New York Times does not typically identify people who claim they have been victims of sexual violence. Irish prosecutors also declined to comment, and the police - without naming McGregor - said only that they had referred the case to prosecutors.

UFC officials declined to comment.

McGregor is scheduled to fight this weekend for the first time in about a year, headlining a 155-pound bout against Dustin Poirier in Abu Dhabi that will be the UFC's first pay-per-view showcase of 2021.

McGregor, although he is still perhaps the biggest star in his sport, has fought just twice in the UFC in the last four years. He also boxed against Floyd Mayweather in 2017.

Online records from Ireland's High Court confirm that the woman filed the lawsuit against McGregor and another man this month. They contain no other details. But The New York Times obtained the statement of claim filed by the woman in the case, which lays out for the first time her description of what happened.

McGregor and the woman grew up in the same area and "previously socialised in the same wider circles," according to the statement of claim. In the early hours of Dec 9, 2018, after exchanging what the lawsuit called "flirtatious" messages on Instagram with McGregor, the woman and a friend were picked up by his driver and taken to a Dublin hotel, along with one of McGregor's friends.

The woman, who had been at a work holiday party, believed that she would be partying with McGregor, the lawsuit said. In the car on the way to the hotel, a bag of cocaine was "produced" and the woman said she took some.

While in the penthouse suite, the woman said in the statement of claim, she was "beckoned" to the bedroom by McGregor, who asked her to perform a lewd act on him, which she refused. He began kissing the woman and removing her clothes, over her protestations, the statement said. After she bit and hit McGregor, he wrapped his arms around her neck and lifted her up three times, after which she ceased fighting back.

McGregor then told her, "That's how I felt in the Octagon, I had to tap myself out three times, that's how I felt," the lawsuit said. McGregor raped her, according to the statement of claim, and demanded she lie on the bed next to him afterward.

The woman fell asleep and woke up in the early evening of Dec 9, after which he left the hotel with the woman's work colleague before returning, the lawsuit said. McGregor's friend gave her a drink. Her only memory thereafter is of being in a taxi, according to the statement. She said she was later told by the police that McGregor's friend said he had sex with her, but she had no recollection of it and did not consent.

She was examined in a sexual assault treatment unit at a hospital after her mother called her an ambulance when she arrived home, the lawsuit said. According to the statement, bruising was found on most of her body, and she had abrasions on her face, neck and right breast.

A month later, the woman went to the police and reported that she had been raped, the lawsuit said. She has not been able to work since May 2019 and describes a host of psychological and emotional problems because of the alleged attack.

The suit seeks a sum of €1,475,110 (S$2.37 million) to €1,759,850. That amount would cover the woman's loss of current and future earnings, the sale of her home in a suburb of Dublin and the purchase of a house elsewhere "to escape the reminders of the ordeal," as well as various medical expenses.

If this case reaches trial, it will be held before a jury. In Ireland, the standard of proof in civil cases is a balance of probabilities, meaning whether something is more likely than not to have occurred, whereas in criminal cases the offence must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

Irish media outlets began reporting on the case soon after the woman went to the police in 2019. McGregor was not named, however, because of strict laws regarding what media can report about ongoing criminal cases. Euphemisms like "Irish sports star" were used instead.

He was first named as under investigation by The New York Times in March 2019.

McGregor has faced a number of other criminal and legal charges in the past few years. In April 2018, he threw a metal dolly at the window of a moving bus inside Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, injuring a number of fighters who were on the bus. He pleaded no contest to disorderly conduct.

In March 2019, he was arrested in Miami Beach, Florida, and accused of breaking a man's phone. The case was dropped, as was a lawsuit after McGregor and the man reached a settlement out of court.

In November 2019, McGregor pleaded guilty to assault in Ireland after he punched a man in a pub.

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