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Conseslus Kipruto, Olympic steeplechase champion, pleads not guilty to ‘defilement’

Day 8 - 17th IAAF World Athletics Championships

Conseslus Kipruto of Kenya competing in the 3000 meter steeple chase for men during the 17th IAAF World Athletics Championships at the Khalifa Stadium in Doha, Qatar on October 4, 2019. (Photo by Ulrik Pedersen/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

NurPhoto via Getty Images

NAIROBI, Kenya — Olympic steeplechase champion Conseslus Kipruto of Kenya has been charged with having sexual intercourse with a 15-year-old girl and was released on bail Monday after pleading not guilty.

Kipruto was charged with what is referred to as “defilement” in Kenyan law — sexual intercourse with a minor under the age of 18. Because the girl is under 16, Kipruto faces at least 20 years in prison if convicted, according to Kenya’s sexual offenses laws.

The charge is comparable to statutory rape.

The 25-year-old Kipruto, who is a policeman, was charged in a courthouse in Kapsabet, a town in the high-altitude Rift Valley region that is famous for producing a stream of world-class distance runners. Kipruto lives in the region and was born in nearby Eldoret, another renowned running town.

Kipruto wore a red sweatshirt with the hood pulled over his head in an attempt to hide his face from photographers at the courthouse. He also had a mask on because of the coronavirus. Police officers who escorted Kipruto to court tried to prevent journalists from taking photographs of him. He was released on $1,800 cash bail.

Kipruto is alleged to have had intercourse with the girl on Oct. 20 and Oct. 21, according to the charge sheet, and was first arrested last Wednesday. Kenyan media reported that the girl had disappeared from her home and had stayed at Kipruto’s house for three days.

Kipruto could argue that the minor deceived him into believing she was over the age of 18 or that he reasonably believed she was over 18. He made no arguments in his defense on Monday apart from denying the charge.

Kipruto won the Rio Olympic 3000m steeplechase. He followed that with back-to-back world titles in 2017 and 2019.

He hasn’t completed a race this season. He withdrew from the Diamond League meet in Monaco in August after testing positive for the coronavirus.