French soccer stars Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich) and Karim Benzema (Real Madrid) have been given preliminary charges in France for having sex with an underage prostitute. Both players names arose during a probe of a Paris prostitution ring and are alleged to have had inappropriate “relationships” with Zahia Dehar, now 18. “Preliminary charges” in France are not formal accusations. The charges allow police to extend the investigation. Both players could face a possible three years in prison.
Prostitution laws in France are more forgiving than the U.S. Prostitution among consenting adults is legal. The laws concerning sex with a minor are also different. The act itself is not enough for conviction. Courts have to prove the accused knew the “victim” was underage. The prosecution has to prove it was blatant Dehar was underage by her appearance (not the case) or that Ribery and Benzema had explicit knowledge of her age. All parties have denied that. An agent and one of Ribery’s relatives were also called in for questioning.
We’re guessing nothing comes of this. Unless there is a paper trail of love notes praising her 17-year-old body, a close associate is willing to testify they were bragging about banging a 17-year-old or one of them insisted on listening to Winger while they formed the beast with two backs, it’s going to be hard to prove the players knew she was not 18. Even if the girl changes her story and says she told them, it would be her word against theirs.
Though formal charges are unlikely, it has to be a draining stress for both players, already under pressure at their clubs after poor seasons last year. It will be interesting to see whether Nike and Adidas stick by two of their biggest stars.
[Photo via Getty]