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Indiana woman says Cuban soccer players gang raped her

An Indiana woman said she was gang raped by three players on Cuba’s national soccer team while on vacation in Jamaica, according to a bombshell new lawsuit that could face obstacles due to thawed relations between the U.S. and the communist country.

The mother-of-four was using a women’s public restroom at her hotel when the star athletes hopped into her stall and took turns raping and torturing her, according to the suit, filed last week, nearly a year after the attack.

The soccer players are identified as Yoandir Puga, Tomas Cruz and Yordan Santa Cruz, all three of whom were released back to Cuba after Cuban officials blocked DNA evidence necessary to bring charges, the suit claims.

“I’d like a little accountability, some justice for what they’ve done … not just walk away scot-free,” the 52-year-old woman, who isn’t identified because she’s a rape victim, told the Daily News by phone.

The Avon, Ind., woman’s lawsuit comes just as the U.S. and Cuba are striking up a warmer relationship, marked by President Obama’s historic three-day visit this week to the island nation.

At the time of the alleged attack, the woman was on vacation in Jamaica with her boyfriend on a trip he had surprised her with.

U.S. President Barack Obama and his Cuba's Raul Castro met Monday in Havana's Palace of the Revolution for groundbreaking talks on ending the standoff between the two neighbors.NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

U.S. President Barack Obama and his Cuba’s Raul Castro met Monday in Havana’s Palace of the Revolution for groundbreaking talks on ending the standoff between the two neighbors.

“It’s just a trip I had wanted to take my whole life, I had never been able to,” she told The News.

The attack happened as the couple neared the end of their getaway, inside a public restroom at her hotel, the Holiday Inn Sun Spree at Montego Bay, where the soccer team was also staying while in the country for a game against a Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz team.

“It (the vacation) definitely got ruined,” the woman said.

The woman’s boyfriend went to check on her after she had been gone for a while and heard her screaming — he then fought off the attackers who fled the bathroom, according to the suit, filed on March 18 in a federal court in Indianapolis.

Jamaican authorities detained the three players after the woman reported the rape and two of them initially confessed to the crime, the woman said.

Cuba's Yordan Santa Cruz is one of the team's best soccer players and is named as one of the men who raped the Indiana woman in Jamaica.  AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Cuba’s Yordan Santa Cruz is one of the team’s best soccer players and is named as one of the men who raped the Indiana woman in Jamaica. 

Enlarge Yoandir Puga, is another teammate who was accused of the brutal crime.  Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Yoandir Puga, is another teammate who was accused of the brutal crime. 

Enlarge

But, after an attorney for the players arrived, they recanted their confessions and officials refused to compel them to submit DNA evidence, the suit charges.

The allegations were initially reported in Jamaican media, but not in the U.S.

Jamaican authorities were forced to let the men go without sufficient evidence to move forward with an investigation, the suit says.

Requests for comment from the Cuban Embassy in Washington D.C., the U.S. Embassy in Cuba, the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football, and the Holiday Inn Sun Spree hotel in Jamaica were not immediately returned. 

The woman says she is now ready to go forth with the suit because it’s not fair that the men get to continue playing soccer while she is haunted every day by the attack.

The Avon, Ind. native said she she was staying at Montego Bay's Holiday Inn Sun Spree in Jamaica, where the Cuban soccer team was also staying, at the time of the attack. Google Maps

The Avon, Ind. native said she she was staying at Montego Bay’s Holiday Inn Sun Spree in Jamaica, where the Cuban soccer team was also staying, at the time of the attack. 

“The way I see it that’s something they enjoy, they’re having fun doing something they enjoy, whereas I deal with this everyday. It doesn’t seem fair,” the woman said.

But, the suit could have been filed too late, according to experts who say now that Cuba has been taken off a list of countries that support terrorism, they can claim “sovereign immunity” against civil lawsuits.

The U.S. took Cuba off the list in May 2015, two months after the alleged rape, as part of efforts to improve relations.

“It makes it more difficult. The cottage industry of suing Cuba over these claims is pretty much over,” Antonio Martinez II, a New York-based lawyer whose firm focuses on U.S-Cuba relations told The News.

Martinez said that lawsuits filed by Americans against Cuba that amount to billions of dollars could now be thrown out. It’s nearly impossible to file suit against a government not on the list of nation’s that support terrorism.

The Cuba National team was in Jamaica at the time of the alleged rape playing a game against Jamaica's Reggae Boyz.Niccolo Guasti/Getty Images

The Cuba National team was in Jamaica at the time of the alleged rape playing a game against Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz.

“Now they have a defense they can assert, which is ‘we’re not on the terror list, this lawsuit needs to be thrown out’,” he said.

The Indiana woman says she’s angry that while the U.S. and Cuba are mending relations, cases like hers prove the country is untrustworthy.

“It’s very upsetting. I feel like they’re harboring criminals and trying to put on an appearance that they want to establish better relations with us. It makes me angry. I don’t feel that we can trust much if they’re going to do that,” she said Friday.

The woman seeks damages for the counseling, legal and medical costs.

The Cuban government must file a response in court or else it would result in a default judgement against them.

lbult@nydailynews.com

Tags:
indiana ,
cuba ,
sex crimes ,
barack obama ,
jamaica ,
lawsuits

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