Orlando City’s off-season took a dark turn Tuesday night with the news that left back Jonathan Suarez was arrested and charged with sexual battery. His older brother was also arrested. Suarez, who was acquired on a one-year loan with an option to buy from Querétaro FC of Liga MX exactly three weeks ago, was suspended by Major League Soccer pending the results of the investigation.
Orlando City SC defender Jonathan Suarez was arrested Tuesday night in connection with allegations of sexual battery. Suarez has been suspended pending investigations by MLS and the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office. Major League Soccer will remain in close communication with the Orlando City SC, local law enforcement, and the MLS Players Association during this investigation.
MLS will make further determinations concerning the player’s status as more information becomes available.
The charge stems from an incident that allegedly took place on Sunday in Osceola County and the details that have emerged, if true, are disturbing. From the Sentinel story linked above by Katie Rice and David Harris:
An Orlando City soccer player and his brother raped a woman in their Kissimmee apartment on Sunday, according to an arrest affidavit from the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office.
The girl and her friend went back to the Suárez brothers’ apartment complex at the Jamison Apartments, where they played beer bong. The woman said she ended up in Rafael Suárez Jr.’s room, where they began having consensual sex, according to the affidavit.
Then, Suárez Jr. let his brother into the room. After entering, Suárez-Cortés said that he wanted “in on the fun,” the affidavit said. The woman told them both “no,” but Suárez-Cortés forced her to perform a sex act on him, even after she tried to pull away, and told his brother to resume having sex with her, the affidavit said.
Bond was subsequently set at $20,000.
UPDATE: Suárez's bond was set at $20,000 & can't contact the victim & can only have "incidental contact" w/ his brother.— Cristóbal Reyes (@chreyesrios) February 24, 2021
He'll also forfeit his passport, consume no alcohol or "illegal substances & isn't allowed to leave the area w/o a court order.https://t.co/i53TvNVasv
After news of the arrest broke Tuesday night, Orlando City released its own statement:
“Late Tuesday night, Orlando City SC became aware that defender Jonathan Suárez was arrested in Osceola County. The club takes these allegations very seriously and is currently gathering more information. No further comment will be provided by the club until additional investigation of the alleged incident is complete.”
The MLS suspension of Suarez is standard operating procedure. Former Orlando City midfielder Will Johnson was similarly suspended in September of 2017 during the investigation of his arrest on domestic abuse charges, which were ultimately not pursued by prosecutors. MLS cleared Johnson to play in mid-October of that year after the league completed its independent investigation and determined that “The evidence reviewed by the MLS League Office does not establish that Johnson physically assaulted his wife,” but also noted that “the League Office has concluded that his overall conduct the night of the incident was not consistent with League policy.” Johnson served a five-game suspension, which the league deemed appropriate.
Suarez, who turned 24 on Monday, was brought in to provide backup for Joao Moutinho as he recovers from hip surgery. The signing was thought to be a good one, as Suarez is an Anaheim, CA native who doesn’t require an international slot. However, his Orlando City career may be over before it really began.
We will continue to follow this story as it develops.