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Hungarian Swimmer Tamás Kenderesi Arrested in South Korea for Alleged Sexual Harassment

Péter Cseresnyés 2019.07.29.

Hungarian swimmer Tamás Kenderesi has been banned from leaving South Korea, after being arrested for alleged sexual harassment, police said on Sunday. The Olympic bronze medalist athlete denies the allegation.

The 22-year-old swimmer was reportedly arrested in the early hours of Sunday morning in Gwangju, South Korea, and questioned over an incident that occurred at a nightclub, an official at the Gwangju Seobu Police Station said.

Tamás Kenderesi: The 19-Year-Old Hungarian Guy Who Overtook Phelps And Won The Bronze In 200m Butterfly

After Kenderesi had been questioned, he was released and returned to the Athletes Village. Police said that he will not be allowed to leave the country for at least 10 days.

The Hungarian swimmer was the bronze medalist in the 200 meter butterfly in Rio three years ago. He finished eighth in the final of the men’s 200m fly on last Wednesday.

According to Yonhap news agency, an 18-year-old woman had called the police to the nightclub and pressed charges against the swimmer for sexually harassing her. Kenderesi denied the allegation against him.

After the police had arrested the athlete, he released a statement about the events at the club. In this Kenderesi writes, he touched the buttocks of a Korean dancer in a club standing at the counter.

I didn’t even stop behind her, I made a single, perhaps brash move that made the girl seriously angry and she pressed charges against me.  After understanding the gravity of the situation, I cooperated fully the whole time.”

He also apologized but denied the charges against him. “I sincerely hope my words about not committing any serious offense will be proven. But I also understand that, even though unintentionally, I have violated certain moral norms that are the basis of the local values.”

I am sorry for what happened, I would like to apologize to the Korean girl if I offended her. However, I fully reject the sexual harassment allegation.”

In their press release, the Hungarian Swimming Association (MÚSZ) writes that they are working with the Hungarian Embassy in South Korea to clarify whether the allegation against Kenderesi was true. Until proven otherwise, the young swimmer has the right to be presumed innocent. If that happens, however, the Association will ask its Disciplinary Committee to take further actions, the statement adds.

Kenderesi insists he did not harass anybody – one of the members of the association who has seen the video footage about the incident said it verifies what the Hungarian swimmer claims, hvg.hu reports, referencing sources from MÚSZ. However, the investigation has not concluded yet so it is still unknown how it will end.  If found guilty, Kenderesi may receive a written warning or a fine, according to sports daily Nemzeti Sport.

Decisions on similar cases are usually made within 6 to 10 days, but Kenderesi can expect an accelerated process due to the seriousness of the case, and his foreign nationality. This means the verdict is expected sometime later this week. Meanwhile, the Hungarian swimmer is staying in a Seoul hotel with his lawyer.

Featured photo by Tamás Kovács/MTI.