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Hungarian swimmer charged with sexual harassment in South Korea

2019.07.31. 15:51

Hungarian Olympic bronze medallist swimmer Tamás Kenderesi was taken into custody and questioned by South Korean police Sunday morning following an incident at a night club in Gwangju, South Korea, the location of the 2019 World Aquatics Championships where Kenderesi was competing,  Reuters reported . The inebriated 22-year-old swimmer was alleged to have inappropriately touched one of the employees of the night club, an 18-year-old woman, who called the police.

Kenderesi admitted to have touched the waitress but denied allegations of sexual harassment in his statement issued on Sunday, as he said:

"I did not even stop behind her, maybe I've made one reckless movement which made the girl in question seriously angry and she filed a police report against me. Understanding the gravity of the situation, I have been fully cooperative. (...) I think I did not commit a serious offence, but I have to understand that I have transgressed certain ethical norms that constitute the basis of the local values"

Kenderesi added that he apologised to the woman involved and said that police informed him that video footage is available to them of the incident, though it was not shown to him. 

The athlete was allowed to return to his hotel shortly after the interrogation concluded in the early hours of Sunday, however, he was banned from leaving South Korea.

On Wednesday, Sándor Wladár, the President of the Hungarian Swimming Association said that Kenderesi will "definitely face disciplinary hearings" in the Association, adding that the Association will not bear the cost of Kenderesi's potential fine or bail under any circumstances. He told Hungarian tabloid Blikk:

"If his guilt is proven, he will get his just punishment in Hungary as well. I cannot stand lies, and I've expressedly told everyone not to look at their own interests but tell the truth."

Wladár also said that Kenderesi was alone at the time of the incident, and even though there were several other Hungarian athletes in the club at the time, none of them saw anything.

According to South Korean newswire Yonhap, the Gwangju police referred the case of the Hungarian swimmer to the prosecution who proceeded to request the court to fine Kenderesi for 3 million South Korean wons, approximately €2000. Kenderesi had deposited the amount at the court and requested his travel ban to be lifted.

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