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Yannick Agnel, French Olympic swim champion, denies coercion in rape case


France’s Yannick Agnel reacts after the Men’s 200m Freestyle heats during the swimming event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 7, 2016. / AFP / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

PARIS — Two-time Olympic swimming champion Yannick Agnel has admitted to having a relationship with an underage girl but denied coercion, the prosecutor in the Frenchman’s rape case said Monday.

Prosecutor Edwige Roux-Morizot said Agnel “recognizes the materiality of the alleged facts” but she said he did not have “the feeling that there was coercion.”

“If the facts constitute rape or sexual assault, it is because there is a significant age difference,” Roux-Morizot said.

Agnel was 24 when the alleged rape took place. The girl was reportedly 13.

Agnel was arrested in Paris last week. On Saturday, he was handed preliminary charges and the case was sent to Mulhouse, eastern France.

Roux-Morizot also said the events took place in 2016 in several locations, including Spain, Thailand and Brazil.

In France, an adult cannot have consensual sex with somebody under 15 years old. Earlier this year, the French parliament adopted legislation that characterizes sex with a child under the age of 15 as rape and punishable by up to 20 years in jail, bringing its penal code closer in line with many other western nations.

French media has said the investigation was launched after a swimmer who trained with Agnel in Mulhouse from 2014-16 filed a lawsuit. L’Équipe newspaper said several swimmers, current and retired, have already been questioned as part of the investigation.

Agnel won two gold medals at the 2012 London Games. He anchored France to victory in the 4x100m freestyle relay, posting the then-second-fastest textile split in history to overtake Ryan Lochte. He won the 200m free the following day.

Agnel retired after the 2016 Rio Games, where he was 19th in the 200m free.

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