US swimmer Feigen fined $10,800 for lying about attack in Rio
Rio de Janeiro, Aug 20 (IANS) Brazil’s justice system imposed a fine of 35,000 reais (around $10,800) on the United States swimmer James Feigen so that he could leave the country after falsely stating he had been a victim of an armed assault along with three of his other teammates in Rio de Janeiro, local media reported on Friday.
According to information announced via television channel Globo, Feigen was accused of “communicating a false crime” and after testifying for four hours before the court, Feigen agreed to pay the set fine. The money will go towards a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that teaches judo to children and teenagers in a Rio de Janeiro slum, Xinhua news agency reported.
Feigen, along with his teammates Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and 12-time Olympic medal winner Ryan Lochte testified to having been attacked in the early hours of Sunday morning while returning to the Olympic Village in a taxi after attending a party.
Repercussions from the case led to Brazilian police investigating and proving that the swimmers lied about what happened. The swimmers actually caused a fight in a gas station close to the Olympic Village as they arrived drunk and ended up brawling with the security guards after damaging property inside the shop.
Due to suspicion surrounding what really happened, the justice system asked for the four swimmers to hand over their passport but Lochte, who made the initial allegation, was already back in the United States when the request was made.
Bentz and Conger were banned from flying back to the US on Wednesday evening and after providing a police statement admitting that the original accusation was a lie.
In their statement, Bentz, Conger and Feigen blamed the more famous and absent Lochte for inventing the story even though he had previously appeared on US television to talk about the alleged assault at gunpoint in Rio, where the swimmers had been competing in the Olympics.
Through the justice system, Feigen apologised to the Brazilians and the authorities that had been involved in solving the case which has generated a lot of controversy in Brazil.
The US Olympic Committee (USOC) also apologised to Brazil for the swimmers’ behaviour.