Culture

James Feigen to Pay $11K to Leave Brazil After #LochteGate Robbery Cover-Up — Updated with Lochte Statement

United States' Michael Phelps, left, jokes with his teammate James Feigen during a swimming training session prior to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
See next page for Lochte update.

The lawyer for U.S. Olympic swimmer James “Jimmy” Feigen said he will pay about $10,800 on Friday and then leave Brazil following the robbery scandal involving him, Ryan Lochte, Gunnar Bentz, and Jack Conger.

“Attorney Breno Melaragno says early Friday that, under an agreement reached with a Brazilian judge, Feigen will donate 35,000 Brazilian reals to an ‘institution’ and depart,” early Friday morning. The report insisted that the lawyer did not specify where the money will go, but “institution” can be taken to mean a charity.

BuzzFeed later reported that once Feigen donates the money to the Brazilian charity Instituto Reacao (the Reaction Institute), his seized passport will be returned and he will be free to leave the country. The swimmer provided a “revised statement” to police after he and Lochte were indicted on charges of lying about being held up at gunpoint by robbers impersonating police, according to the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Under Brazilian law, a donation can be made to avoid criminal prosecution for minor offenses, Melaragno explained.

Bentz and Conger left Brazil Thursday night after giving testimony to police. Police denied the story that Lochte and the three others had been held at gunpoint, as Lochte originally claimed. The Brazilian authorities say the athletes were intoxicated, vandalized a bathroom, and then were questions by armed guards before they paid for the damage and left.

This payment is the latest in a long string of bizarre twists in what has become known as #LochteGate, the investigation into Lochte’s claims that he and the three other swimmers were robbed at gunpoint. On Thursday, Brazilian police came forward with a video of the event, demonstrating that it was not a robbery.

On Wednesday, the police ordered Lochte and Feigen to turn over their passports, but Lochte had already left the country. Early Thursday morning, Brazilian officials stopped Bentz and Conger from leaving the country, and ordered them to get off their plane and go to a police station for questioning.

While it appears that their story was false — and Feigen’s settlement seems to confirm that the swimmers admit they were in the wrong — many robberies were caught on tape during the Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero. Many in America were perplexed about why the swimmers would lie about being robbed at gunpoint, but the Brazilian police explained that they had damaged a bathroom in a gas station, and paid for repairs as they left.

Indeed, if the police narrative is true, it explains the original reports. Lochte, Feigen, Bentz, and Conger were drunk at the gas station and damaged the property. Then (armed?) security guards caught them, made them leave their cab, and ordered them to pay for the damage. After returning to the Olympic camp, the swimmers remembered the altercation vaguely, noticed they had less money than before, and assumed that they had been robbed, which squares with the reports of multiple robberies in Rio.

Next Page: Ryan Lochte releases statement.

In a statement on Friday, Lochte apologized “for my behavior last weekend — for not being more careful and candid in how I described the events of that early morning.” He seemed most sorry for “my role in taking the focus away from the many athletes fulfilling their dreams of participating in the Olympics.”

Lochte clarified his view of events, after the original report of the robbery seemed disproved by police video.

It’s traumatic to be out late with your friends in a foreign country — with a language barrier — and to have a stranger point a gun at you and demand money to let you leave, but regardless of the behavior of anyone else that night, I should have been much more responsible in how I handled myself and for that am sorry to my teammates, my fans, my fellow competitors, my sponsors, and the hosts of this great event.

The swimmer explained that he “waited to share these thoughts until it was confirmed that the legal situation was addressed and it was clear that my teammates would be arriving home safely.” Or maybe he finally realized that he should apologize after Feigen agreed to pay $10,800 just to leave Brazil…

Here’s the full statement: