Brazilian prosecutor rules in favour of re-opening criminal case against Lochte
A Brazilian prosecutor has reportedly ruled in favour of re-opening a criminal case against American swimmer Ryan Lochte.
The apparent U-turn from an earlier ruling not to press charges marks the latest chapter in a remarkable saga bubbling for over a year since an incident during the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Lochte was accused of falsely reporting a crime in August 2016 after his story that he and team-mates Jimmy Feigen, Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger had been held-up and robbed by men posing as police was disputed.
It emerged that the group had been obliged by an armed security guard to pay for damage caused to a petrol station after a drunken night of celebration.
The scandal caused great offence in Brazil and embarrassment in the United States.
An Appellate Court in Brazil had initially dismissed a case in July, however, ruling that Lochte did not break the law.
A Brazilian judge has now ruled against a request from Jeff Ostrow, the lawyer of the six-time Olympic gold medallist, to terminate proceedings.
This decision was forwarded to a prosecutor, but, according to O’Globo and USA Today, they have now ruled in favour of continuing the criminal case.
A separate appeals process against the initial verdict is still ongoing.
“I’m disappointed that they’re trying to take another shot at it,” Ostrow told USA Today.
“I think they should just let it die because they lost and because he didn’t do anything wrong.
“But for whatever reason, they want to try to save face and continue this charade, let them do what they gotta do, and we’ll continue to fight it because we believe we’re right.”
As of July 1, the 32-year-old six-time Olympic swimming gold medallist was cleared to return to international competition after seeing out a 10-month ban imposed by the United States Olympic Committee and USA Swimming following the incident in Rio.
Lochte was accused of having pulled a metal advertisement in a frame to the ground in the Brazilian city before he “stood up and began to yell at guards” after they were caught.
He has admitted he “over-exaggerated” what had happened, although he continued to claim he was not telling an outright lie.
The penalty for falsely filing a crime report carries a maximum penalty of 18 months in prison under Brazilian law and Lochte can be tried in his absence.