A gold-medal-winning Olympian acknowledged having a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old girl but denies coercion, prosecutor says
- Yannick Agnel, a two-time gold-medal-winning Olympian for France, was arrested on suspicion of rape.
- Prosecutors say Agnel acknowledged having a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old when he was 24.
A two-time Olympic gold-medal-winning swimmer acknowledged having a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old girl when he was 24, the prosecutor in his case said, according to several news reports.
France's Yannick Agnel, 29, was arrested in Paris on Thursday on suspicion of rape and sexual assault, Agence France-Presse reported on Monday.
He was handed preliminary charges on Saturday, The Associated Press reported. He was taken to the city of Mulhouse — close to the French border with Switzerland and Germany — where a lawsuit against him had been filed.
Agnel, who won two gold medals at the 2012 London Games, is accused of rape and coercion in a series of events alleged to have taken place in 2016, the reports say. The girl is the daughter of one of Agnel's former coaches, AFP reported.
The allegations involve several locations, including Spain, Thailand, and Brazil, the prosecutor Edwige Roux-Morizot said, according to the AP.
The AP quoted Roux-Morizot as saying that Agnel "recognizes the materiality of the alleged facts" but denies the charge of coercion.
In France, the age of consent is 15. Earlier this year, the country changed its laws to characterize sex with a child younger than 15 as rape, the AP reported. Before the change, cases involving sex with children under 15 could be prosecuted as rape only if there was proof of coercion through "violence, constraint, threat or surprise," a Politico report from April said. Rape in France is punishable with 20 years in prison.
The AP reported that the case was brought to a court in Mulhouse after a swimmer who trained with Agnel in the city from 2014 to 2016 filed a lawsuit.
The French newspaper L'Equipe reported that several swimmers, current and retired, had already been questioned as part of the investigation.
Agnel won gold in the 200-meter freestyle and the 4x100-meter free relay in London. He also won silver in the 4x200-meter free relay and two gold medals at the 2013 Barcelona world championships.
France's minister of sport, Roxana Maracineanu, said the case was a "very important subject" for her, according to the website Inside the Games.
"I personally know the person who lodged the complaint, and you can imagine that this affects me," Maracineanu reportedly said.
"It is a process that must follow its course.
"The girl's complaint is in the hands of the justice system and must proceed to the end."
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