Police released a statement about the decision to charge the 32-year-old American swimmer and claim he will soon be notified so he can decide whether or not to defend himself in Brazil. The indictment will also be turned over to the International Olympic Committee’s ethics commission.
In Brazil, the penalty for filing a false report of a crime carries a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison and Lochte could be tried even if he doesn’t return to the country. The U.S. and Brazil do have an extradition agreement but it would be highly unlikely that Lochte would be forced to return over such a minor infraction. Brazil also has a history of not extraditing its own citizens despite those agreements.
Lochte has admitted to exaggerating his version of events at the time and has largely come clean on the issue. Quite frankly, Brazil’s decision to charge him with a crime after all that has happened is pretty ridiculous. It’s clear the police also exaggerated their report of events initially as well, then attempted to extort $46,000 out of Lochte’s teammate Jimmy Feigen. This whole thing is a mess and prolonging it won’t make Brazilian authorities look any better.
Lochte has been thoroughly embarrassed, has lost sponsorship deals and is facing punishment from the USOC. Rio’s police department shouldn’t have filed charges with the idea being that he’s faced enough punishment. Instead they’ve decided to drag this on, which seems incredibly petty.