Criminal Justice

US swimmer agrees to charity payment to avoid prosecution in robbery scandal, lawyer says

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Updated: U.S. swimmer Jimmy Feigen has agreed to pay $10,800 to a Brazilian charity to avoid charges in connection with allegedly false claims of an armed robbery in Rio, his lawyer said on Friday.

Lawyer Breno Melaragno tells the Associated Press that Brazilian law permits donations to avoid criminal prosecution for minor offenses. He did not say what offense officials were contemplating. The Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) also has news of the payment, but relies on an unnamed police official for the information. The Washington Post has a story that cites the AP information.

Anonymous police officials have said Feigen and three other swimmers were not held up at gunpoint early Sunday, as U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte said in TV interviews. Instead the swimmers were confronted by an armed security guard after one of them broke a bathroom door at a gas station, the official said.

Lochte returned to the United States before a warrant was issued for his arrest. Two other swimmers, Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz, were pulled from their plane but were later allowed to leave Brazil, their lawyer, Sergio Riera, told the Washington Post in a separate story.

“They did not lie,” Riera said of the two swimmers. “They did not talk to the press, not one lie and not one truth. They simply did not talk to the press.”

Riera had a different account of the gas station incident. He said two of the swimmers urinated outside at the back of the station after finding no available restroom. Riera alleged that Lochte punched an advertisement in a metal frame that fell to the ground and made a noise. As the men got back in the taxi, two security guards with pistols in their belts approached, and one showed a police badge.

At that point, Riera said, Lochte began to argue and said he did nothing wrong. The security guards ordered the men to sit on the ground, and one pointed a gun at them. A customer tried to translate. The swimmers paid some money, got in another taxi, and left.

Lochte apologized on social media on Friday, report the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune.

“I want to apologize for my behavior last weekend—for not being more careful and candid in how I described the events of that early morning and for my role in taking the focus away from the many athletes fulfilling their dreams of participating in the Olympics,” he wrote at the beginning of an Instagram post.

“It’s traumatic to be out late with your friends in a foreign country—with a language barrier—and have a stranger point a gun at you and demand money to let you leave.” He went on to say he should have been more responsible in how he handled himself and he apologizes to his teammates, fans, competitors, sponsors and Olympic hosts.

Updated with Lochte’s statement at 9:40 a.m.

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