The plot thickens as three Olympic swimmers are being questioned by Brazilian authorities in the wake of Ryan Lochte's claim that the group was robbed at gunpoint over the weekend. The story is changing by the minute, but here's everything you need to know about the Ryan Lochte robbery case.
Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz were removed from a flight last night and questioned by police before being released this morning, said USOC spokesperson Patrick Sandusky in a statement to Romper. Jimmy Feigen is also still in Brazil as far as authorities know, and is also being questioned. But Ryan Lochte, who originally filed the report concerning the robbery, has left the country and is back home in the states. In a telephone interview with Matt Lauer last night, Lochte denied lying about the robbery and said that the discrepancies in his story as he's recounted it to Olympic officials, authorities, and the media are a result of the trauma the event caused him and his teammates.
A Brazilian judge, who ordered Lochte's passport be seized yesterday, does not believe his claims to be true. Basing her decision in part on security footage, which was obtained by The Daily Mail, that shows Lochte and his teammates returning to the Olympic village after their night out, not appearing to be as emotionally shaken as they claimed.
Here are some additional aspects to the case you need to know.
Who Was Involved?
According to Lochte's original statement, and confirmation from the team, four swimmers are part of the robbery story: Lochte, Jimmy Feigen, Jack Conger, and Gunnar Bentz, according to the BBC.
Feigen, Conge, and Bentz are still in Brazil being questioned by police. It is not yet known when they will be permitted to leave the country.
How Did Ryan Lochte Get Back To The U.S.?
Despite the fact that a Brazilian judge attempted to seize Lochte's passport, preventing him from leaving Brazil until he and the other swimmers were questioned, he returned to the United States earlier this week. He told Lauer that no one had explicitly told him to stay in Brazil and he had fully cooperated with Brazilian authorities.
He was spotted at an airport in North Carolina at 10:33 a.m. Wednesday morning, accompanied by Kayla Rae Reid, according to People. But his father, Stephen, told The Associated Press the swimmer arrived home Tuesday night. Lochte also allegedly posted a Snapchat Tuesday saying he was back on U.S. soil.
Judge Keyla Blanc De Cnop had issued search warrants and the seizure of the passports for the teammates, but when authorities arrived at the Olympic Village in Rio, Lochte had already departed.
What Are The Brazilian Authorities Saying?
According to The Daily Mail, the Brazilian police have security footage of Lochte and his teammates drunkenly destroying restroom at a gas station. A security guard who responded to the commotion allegedly drew a gun on them after they refused to pay-up for the damages.
An unnamed source told The Daily Mail in the same article that after the security guard pulled a gun, the swimmers gave him some money for the damage, then left.
Why Are They Being Questioned?
At first, Lochte and his teammates didn't report a robbery to USOC or any other Olympic officials. They were afraid they'd get in trouble for partying. He did, however, tell his mom, according to Deadspin. When she started sharing the story, the media got whiff of it. The media's response forced Brazilian authorities to try to get the official story from the swimmers.
Lochte originally said that he and his teammates were in a taxi headed back to the Olympic Village after partying in Rio. Their taxi was pulled over by several robbers who were posing as police officers. The robbers were armed and told them to get on the ground. In his original statement to the media, Lochte recounted the following, according to NBC News:
I refused, I was like we didn't do anything wrong, so — I'm not getting down on the ground. And then the guy pulled out his gun, he cocked it, put it to my forehead and he said, 'Get down,' and I put my hands up, I was like 'whatever.' He took our money, he took my wallet — he left my cell phone, he left my credentials.
The USOC released the following statement:
According to four members of the U.S. Olympic Swimming Team (Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger, Jimmy Feigen and Ryan Lochte), they left France House early Sunday morning in a taxi headed for the Olympic Village. Their taxi was stopped by individuals posing as armed police officers who demanded the athletes' money and other personal belongings. All four athletes are safe and cooperating with authorities.
But when the other teammates were questioned, and Lochte further pressed, the story started to change, according to SB Nation. Then, it was that there was just one robber, not a group of them. And they weren't dressed as cops. And they didn't put a gun to anyone's head. The Brazilian authorities, who had become about as confused as the media, decided that they needed to further question the swimmers in order to figure out what, if anything, happened.
Police have not been able to locate the alleged taxi driver who could potentially corroborate the story, according to E! Online. Authorities are also trying to figure out which gas station the men may have referred to in subsequent tellings of events.
How Is Brazil's Sociopolitical Climate Impacting The Case?
Even before the Olympics started, a lot of people were worried about the sociopolitical climate in Brazil. As if the country didn't have enough to worry about with the Zika virus, Brazil is also plagued with a lot of violent crime.
In 2014, 60,000 people were murdered in Brazil, most of them involving guns, according to NPR.
The media has portrayed many of Brazil's cities as being "murder capitols of the world", according to Forbes, and this is a pretty lofty title to try to overcome when hosting the Olympics. Obviously, Brazil didn't want the violence to pull focus from the Olympics — but officials were also hoping that perhaps the Olympics would have a positive impact. Many have argued that it was likely the opposite: that the funds used for the glitz and glimmer of the games diverted money away from the cities that desperately need it.
Will Lochte & His Teammates Be Charged With A Crime?
Aside from allegedly destroying a public restroom while being drunk and disorderly, Brazilian authorities also suspect that Lochte filed a false police report regarding a robbery that didn't happen.
Lying about a robbery means the swimmers could be facing serious charges. In Brazil, the false reporting of a crime is punishable by up to six months of detention, plus fines. Spokespeople for Lochte and the other swimmers involved have not responded to Romper's request for comment regarding allegations that Lochte lied about the robbery. Since Lochte has left the country, could he be made to return to Brazil? Legal experts say probably not.
There is an extradition treaty between the U.S. and Brazil, but the U.S. probably would not cooperate with it, since Lochte left the country before the seizure of his passport was issued. However, if Brazilian authorities put a warrant out for Lochte's arrest and he returned to the country, he could be arrested.
As of right now, Lochte has not been charged with a crime — if he was, say, charged with filing a false police report in Brazil, the U.S. would only consider such a crime a misdemeanor, and wouldn't likely extradite him for it.
The story continues to draw the media's eye away from the events of this week, which will carry on through the closing ceremony this weekend.