France footballer Benjamin Mendy was branded a “predatory serial rapist” by a UK court as the prosecution wound its case against the Manchester City star. Mendy, 28, is on trial in northwest England and has been charged with seven counts of rape - one of attempted rape, and another of sexual assault against six young women.
His co-accused, Louis Saha Matturie, 41, meanwhile, faces six counts of rape and three of sexual assault against seven young women. However, both men have denied the charges.
But the opposition party is firm with their allegations with Prosecutor Timothy Kray telling a jury at Chester Crown Court that Mendy lured young women into "toxic and dangerous" situations at parties. Mendy and Matturie assumed the women were "good for sex" and "never heard the word no", the lawyer alleged.
The place of assault has been identified as a flat Mendy rented in Manchester city centre and at "after parties" at his home in leafy Cheshire. Matturie is said by the prosecution to have been the "fixer" who identified and invited women to the parties from VIP lounges of nightclubs in the city. In evidence, Mendy has denied lying to "save his own skin", despite admitting having sex with women "within seconds and minutes" of meeting them.
He acknowledged that he had sex with many women but insisted he always stopped if they said "no". Character witnesses for Mendy at the trial have included his boss, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. But Cray said despite that, "there's this dangerous streak which makes him a predatory serial rapist".
"We all know that celebrity is absolutely no guarantee of true good character, is it?" he told the jury. "In fact, celebrity in general is really good cover for people to hide the dark side of your life and get away with it."
Mendy's lawyer Eleanor Laws, however, said each of the charges hinged on "one word against another", claiming connections between the complainants. "People do make untrue allegations," she said, highlighting the case of one woman, aged 19, who accused both Mendy and Matturie of raping her.
Mobile phone footage emerged of the woman having "enthusiastic" sex with Matturie on an occasion she alleged she was being raped. Jurors were directed by the judge to find both men not guilty of those charges. The trial was adjourned until Friday.