As Gossip Cop has reported, Lochte claimed last August that he was robbed at gunpoint after a night out in Rio, while he was in the Brazilian city for the Olympics. It later emerged that he had actually committed vandalism at a gas station, and was being held by security for damages. Local authorities charged Lochte with filing a false police report, and although he had no intention of returning to the South American country to be brought to justice, his legal team still worked to defend him.
Namely, Lochte’s lawyers argued the case should be dismissed, but their request was denied by majority rule on a three-judge panel, according to USA Today. That decision, however, was appealed and now overturned on Thursday by an appellate court, whose majority felt the charge did not apply to Lochte. The ruling found that since he originally made his claims in an NBC interview, after which police came to him to investigate, he is not guilty of filing a false police report. That said, prosecutors will be able to fight the new decision, reports the paper.
But in a statement, one of Lochte’s attorneys says, “We are pleased that the court has finally dismissed the criminal prosecution against Mr. Lochte, while at the same time, appropriately recognizing that he committed no crime. It has been a long year, but in the end, justice prevailed.” The swimmer himself, who was suspended from the sport in the wake of the incident, has not personally commented.
Coincidentally, the news comes just days after a joke about the situation at this week’s ESPYs. During host Peyton Manning’s opening monologue, the former football player cracked, “John Cena is an athlete the same way Ryan Lochte is a reliable witness. It’s just not an accurate statement.” While Lochte wasn’t in attendance, the camera panned to show Michael Phelps heartily laughing in response.
Although the second half of last year was quite tumultuous for the athlete, the first half of 2017 has been without scandal for him. In January, Lochte scored a new endorsement deal, and in April, the protesters who crashed his “Dancing with the Stars” performance were fined $20,000. And in June Lochte and Kayla Rae Reid welcomed a baby boy.