Rio police charge Ryan Lochte with falsely reporting a crime
RIO DE JANEIRO (CNN) — It looks like US swimmer Ryan Lochte will soon have to decide whether to go back to Brazil.
Lochte has been charged with falsely reporting a crime, Rio police said.
The department’s chief has requested a letter be sent to Lochte communicating the legal process related to the charges, according to the statement. A copy of the indictment also will be sent to the International Olympic Committee’s ethics commission.
Brazilian police asked a judge to issue a summons for the 12-time Olympic medalist to appear in a Brazilian court and answer accusations he filed a false police report, Clemente Braune, a commissioner with the Special Tourist Police in Rio, said Thursday.
Lochte can opt to send a lawyer and does not need to appear in court. But were he not to appear, Lochte would lose the opportunity to negotiate a fine before charges were pressed, Braune said.
If convicted, Lochte, 32, could face between one to six months in jail, although the judge could choose to levy a fine instead. There would be no negotiations in that case, Braune explained.
Lochte would also have the opportunity to appeal any decision.
Jeff Ostrow, Ryan Lochte’s attorney, told CNN he has not heard from Brazilian authorities.
Lochte has apologized for poor behavior during an incident at a Rio gas station on the morning of August 14. Lochte told Olympics broadcaster NBC on the day of the altercation that he and three other swimmers were robbed at gunpoint after the cab they were in was pulled over.
The other swimmers — Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and James Feigen — have since publicly shared their version of the events with stories that differ from Lochte’s original tale and essentially match surveillance video released by Brazilian police.
Authorities said there was no robbery, but security guards had drawn guns and stopped the swimmers from leaving after they vandalized the gas station. The money was to pay for items that were broken, they said.
Feigen said in a statement this week that he was questioned by a detective later that day and gave a statement in which he left out parts about the swimmers urinating behind the building and Lochte pulling down a framed poster.
Days later, as scrutiny on Lochte’s story increased, police questioned Feigen again. In his second statement, he gave more details, he said.
The court then proposed he pay a $31,250 fine and do 15 days of community service, Feigen said. He rejected the offer and the judge increased the amount to $46,875, the swimmer said.
Feigen’s attorney negotiated a fine of $10,800 and the swimmer was given back his passport and allowed to leave Brazil.
Lochte told NBC’s Matt Lauer that he had been interviewed by police while he was still in Rio. He also changed his version of the story slightly to include that the swimmers had stopped to use the bathroom and the incident occurred as the quartet was going back to their cab.
In a second interview with Lauer, he said he had “over-exaggerated” when describing the events of the morning to NBC and others.
The four-time Olympian also faces potential discipline from the US Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee.