“The pack of Cobreloa”: the case of the 9 Chilean soccer players arrested and accused of the group rape of a young woman – La Opinión

“The pack of Cobreloa”: the case of the 9 Chilean soccer players arrested and accused of the group rape of a young woman – La Opinión

It seemed like a party like any other, with the excuse of celebrating national holidays, but it ended with a complaint for group rape and the preventive detention of nine soccer players who were active in the youth team of the Chilean club Cobreloa. and who now face a possible sentence of up to 15 years in prison.

“The Cobreloa herd” is the name with which some media refer to this case, in reference to a case of group rape that occurred in Spain in 2016 and that shook public opinion in the European nation.

In Chile, however, the controversy involves an additional element: the fact that justice has taken so long to take action on the matter, since the original complaint was filed in September 2021.

Added to this is that the nine The accused were, when the events occurred, part of the youth academy of the Cobreloa football club.which currently plays in the Chilean first division.

In fact, among those arrested there are two first team players.

WARNING: This report contains descriptions that some readers may find disturbing.

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Getty: Many question the way the authorities act.

“They forced me to go to a room, where 8 or 10 more people entered and raped me”

According to the complainant’s story, the attack occurred on the night of September 16, 2021, the eve of the celebration of the national holidays in Chile.

The young woman, who was 18 years old at the time, said that she knew one of the soccer players from the Cobreloa quarry and that he invited her to a party, which she attended with a friend.

The meeting took place in the so-called Casa Naranja, the place where the quarry players reside in the city of Calama, in the Antofagasta region, about 1,500 kilometers north of Santiago de Chile.

“I went with one to the bathroom and when I got to the bathroom I found that there were two more people. There I try to leave the bathroom and they take me by the arms and take me to a room. There were more people there. I tried to escape, but no…they had more strength than me“, the complainant told the TV13 television network.

“I no longer agreed, I no longer wanted to and they forced me to go to a room, where eight or 10 more people entered and raped me,” he added in statements to CHV Noticias.

To subdue her, the attackers allegedly resorted to other acts of violence, as stated in the complaint that the young woman made to the police the next day.

“(They) grabbed me forcefully by the arms, neck, and waist, they hit my face, they hit me with a belt, they put the belt on my neck and penetrated me, I saw condoms, some of them were left on the floor (… ) They recorded me, and made video calls to other men in which they showed what they did”, he added, according to excerpts from the text published by La Tercera.

After the attack, institutional silence would come.

When she woke up the next day, the young woman told what happened to a friend who took her to a hospital to have the corresponding tests done and with these she went to the Investigative Police (PDI) to file the complaint.

Although the forensic report certified the presence of “physical signs suggestive of flagrant sexual violence”the woman claims that the police officers who received her complaint recommended that she dismiss it and even make a statement to establish that there had been consensual sexual relations.

“They told me: ‘You had to understand that it is a sports club, they have good lawyers. What did you have? Who is going to pay your lawyers? You are alone. And you don’t look as affected as the rest of the victims either,” the woman said the agents told her.

a long silence

After that episode, the complainant said that she wanted to abandon the case and, in fact, a police report cited by TV13 indicates that “no further investigative measures were carried out, since the crime of rape was dismissed by the victim, since “He indicated that he had sexual relations with his consent and gave up continuing with the complaint.”

On May 9, 2023, the case was archived.

But the story was not yet over.

María Elena Saavedra, mother of one of the soccer players present at the party although not involved in the alleged events, was making public complaints in 2023, which helped the investigation to be reactivated.

The woman sent communications to Cobreloa and the Professional Football Association (ANFP).

The club commissioned a team of external lawyers to carry out an investigation. Your conclusion? “There is no evidentiary record of the facts contained in the complaint.”

But according to Fernando Ramírez, former president of Cobreloa, the club had been informed about what happened, but did not want to investigate.

I found out practically at the time. They asked me not to continue researching this topic.”, he said in statements to TV13. “On September 17, we received information that there was a sexual assault in one of the club houses,” he added.

It should be noted that in a statement published after the arrest of the athletes, the team said it had been collaborating with justice and stated that “it was the same institution that filed a complaint and complaint against all those who are responsible in this case.”

In November 2023, the Sports Commission of the Chamber of Deputies held a session to hear the testimony of the complainant and then decided to open an investigation into what happened.

It was also around that time that the Public Ministry decided to reopen the investigation that led to the indictment of the 9 players who have now been placed under preventive detention for being considered a “danger to the security of society.”

Although the formalization hearing was held behind closed doors, local media reported that police reports indicate that, of the nine footballers detained, eight would have committed direct sexual assault against the victimwhile one of them would have recorded the events.

The process is expected to take 120 days. If found guilty, the players could receive a prison sentence of up to 15 years.

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Getty: Chilean feminist groups have been denouncing the impunity of many sexual offenders for years.

Why did justice take time to act?

What may take a while to understand is something that representative Marisela Santibáñez, one of the people who promoted the case from the Sports Commission, recently highlighted: why has justice taken so long when “We had a victim who does everything that society tells a woman to do when she is raped and in a massive way.?”

Asked by the Chilean press about the delay in processing the case, the Minister of Women and Gender Equality, Antonia Orellana, referred to three factors that seem to have influenced:

  • “A club that has been very resistant to admitting that there is a problem here”
  • A type of crime that is very difficult to configure and that involves a pact of silence
  • The fact that the initial reception that the complainant received from the authorities was not correct, so it would not have inspired confidence in the possibility of achieving justice.
  • Orellana stated that this case is different from that of the Manada in Spain because it is not a crime of group rape.

    “What the complaint is talking about is multiple sexual crimes, in which, in addition, in each of them, one of the people, the aggressors, has the status of perpetrator, but then, in the rest, has the status of an accomplice and, possibly, as the investigation develops, an accessory,” he explained.

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