June 24, 2024

Open Court


Hours before his RG semifinal, Zverev’s assault case settled

ROLAND GARROS – As Alexander Zverev’s assault trial went into the courtroom in Germany for a third day, a surprise twist.

It’s over – literally hours before he was to take the court against No. 7 seed Casper Ruud, with the winner ascending to the men’s singles final on Sunday.

The case has been discontinued, the charges dropped and Zverev – who was credibly accused by another woman, Olga Sharypova, of assault several years ago even if Sharypova didn’t pursue the case legally – remains legally innocent of the charges levied by the German court system and his ex-partner Brenda Patea, the mother of his child.

The trial, triggered by Zverev’s appeal of a penalty order sent down last October, was set to run on 10 non-consecutive days beginning May 31 (the day after Zverev won his second-round match against David Goffin) and ending July 19.

It ended up taking three.

Zverev was not, unless the judge compelled him to (which she hadn’t to that point) required to be present. And he wasn’t; he’s looking to make the Roland Garros final today.

According to DW news, the judge said this to the court. “I think it’s important to continue living without any further blame. That is what has been agreed here. It’s a good ending, it’s a success.”

She also said the settlement approach was instigated by Patea’s lawyers after Day 2, after she began testifying.

Also per DW news, Zverev defence lawyer Katharina Dierlamm told the court this: “We are happy that an agreement has been reached. This is for the good of the child that they have together, so it has the chance to grow up without conflict.”

(I mean, that horse left the barn years ago – and the child was still being used as a pawn in the various twists and turns in this case. But we digress).

The BBC reports the court saying, “The decision is not a verdict and it is not a decision about guilt or innocence. One decisive factor for the court decision was that the witness has expressed her wish to end the trial. The defendant agreed to the termination of the case.”

Fans either unaware or strongly supportive

The decision won’t change the opinions on both sides of the equation. Those who are big Zverev fans have always maintained that these women are … golddiggers making up lies. Or something.

Those who never particularly cottoned to his … tetchy personality, and also those who think violence against women IS A RATHER BIG DEAL (which it is, especially when there are physical and financial imbalances between the two parties), will continue to believe there’s a there there. And that being wealthy and entitled will get your out of most things.

And there is, of course, the presumption of innocence that should apply to everything, until proven otherwise. In this case, that innocence was not really determined either way in court, because no decision was reached.

In the end, the fans keep cheering Zverev – many of whom are unaware, still others who don’t care. And it’s possible he might win the first Grand Slam of his career.

Zverev on the practice court with German lefty Koepfer ahead of his first-round Roland Garros clash with Rafael Nadal. Brother Mischa, for some reason, was dressed in matching kit and had an earpiece on during proceedings.

Zverev always confident

Before Roland Garros began, less than a week after he won the Italian Open, Zverev sounded confident that he would be exonerated.

“At the end of the day, I do believe in the German system. I do believe in the truth, as well. I have to be certain that, you know, I do know what I did, I do know what I didn’t do. That’s, at the end of the day, what’s going to come out, and I have to trust in that. You know, everything else is out of my hands. Not out of my hands, but I do believe that I’m not going to lose this procedure. There’s absolutely no chance I am,” he said.

“That’s why I can play calmly, and I think my results have been showing it. Winning Rome I think is a big title, as well, and obviously being here. And if it would be on my mind I wouldn’t be playing the way I am.”

The “penalty order”, in the German system, is decided on by the judge based on prosecutorial evidence that stated Zverev, back in May 2020 at the start of the pandemic, “briefly strangled his then-partner by the neck with both hands, allegedly causing her shortness of breath and considerable pain”. But there was no opportunity for Zverev to defend himself in that phase.

He could have paid the €450,000 fine (proportionate to income, it would be less for the average Joe and while a big chunk of change for him, not difficult to come up with).

And that would have been that. But Zverev emphatically professed his innocence. And with his appeal of the penalty order, the case went to trial.

An early Roland Garros practice with childhood friend Andrey Rublev.

No conviction, no withdrawal

Tournament director Amélie Mauresmo said that since Zverev’s case had not been adjudicated, he was considered innocent and as such, had a right to compete.

The Grand Slam rulebook states that you would have to be found guilty (not just charged) with a crime for measures to be taken. That differs from the ATP Tour’s rules in that those say “charged or convicted”.

But the ATP has not involved itself in this case. For the previous accusations from Sharypova, which she said occurred in three different venues – the Laver Cup (an exhibition), the US Open (a Grand Slam), at his residence in Monte Carlo and in Shanghai (an actual ATP Tour event), they mostly investigated only the one that fell under their direct purview. Although they did state that the “major, independant investigation” also included the other “publicly reported” alleged incidents.

And, after 16 months of silence, the ATP determined there was “insufficient evidence to substantiate published allegations of abuse“.

The allegations from Sharypova are detailed here.

It’s worth noting, however, that it’s not available here in France, or elsewhere in Europe after a preliminary injunction issued by a German court.

On May 31, Zverev’s lawyers laid out their plan for his defence. The German newspaper BILD reported they stated they would “present new evidence” that wasn’t known to the court. And that Patea was neither choked, nor did she suffer any injuries. They also said she shopped on Amazon a few hours after the incident and spent … 461.23 euros (on Zverev’s credit card), which they claim she did “instead of going to the doctor” to have the injuries treated. So you could see where that was headed.

And then they asked for Patea to have her testimony heard behind closed doors.

On June 3, the second day, the judge agreed to the request, which was not objected to by Patea’s side. Also, court adjourned at lunchtime as Patea was beginning her testimony because she was ill – hoarse, with a fever” and was to resume four days later.

According to sources quoted by Bild, Patea (who was not the plaintiff, but a co-plaintiff with the state) “contradicted and stuttered during her interrogation on Monday after just a few questions from the presiding judge, Barbara Lüders.” Tears are also “said to have flowed”.

She then asked for the break.

Fast forward to today, when the public and media were not supposed to be allowed into the courtroom because of the continuation of Patea’s testimony. But they were let in, an announcement expected.

Then came the twist. The case has been “discontinued” – dismissed, and the original penalty order nullified against the 27-year-old German.

The two sides reportedly agreed to settle out of court. But given the state is also a plaintiff, it also had to agree to drop the case. Which happened.

The statement from his attorneys (translated): “Alexander Zverev agreed to this attitude through his defense attorney simply to shorten the proceedings – especially in the interests of their child. Alexander Zverev is still considered innocent. The dismissal does not include a finding of guilt or an admission of guilt. The legal presumption of innocence remains unaffected.”

According to Bild, Zverev will have to pay court costs – 150,000 euros to the state treasury and 50,000 to a charitable fund.

That doesn’t include any side agreement with Patea as to a possible monetary settlement, which exists, according to a statement from the court published by the BBC, but without details.

“There has been a settlement between the defendant and the complainant. This settlement is not part of this trial thorugh, and the court is not part of this settlement,” it states.

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