Venezuela rejects US extradition request

Associated Press

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuela's Supreme Court announced Monday that it has rejected a U.S. request for the extradition of a Venezuelan citizen who has been accused of sexually abusing several minors in the United States.

Former swim team coach Simon Daniel Chocron cannot be sent to the United States because Venezuela's Constitution and laws strictly prohibit the extradition of its citizens, the court said. It said Chocron would face justice in Venezuela.

Chocron is accused of "obscene exhibition, lascivious acts, the sale or exhibition of pornographic material to minors and illegal sexual relations with minors" for acts committed at a school in Jacksonville, Florida, in 2000 and 2001, the court said.

Chocron jumped bail in 2001 while facing several charges of sexual battery against minors. He was arrested in Spain in 2003, when Spanish officials, who discovered his active warrants and contacted Jacksonville police.

The court's statement suggested Chocron is currently in Venezuela, although his whereabouts could not be immediately verified.

Spokesmen for the Attorney General's Office in Venezuela did not answer telephone calls seeking comment.

Chocron, a Florida State University graduate and former swim team member, faces 14 felony sexual charges and one charge of jumping his $250,000 bail.

In March 2001, a 15-year-old swimmer told police that she had engaged in sexual acts with Chocron, who was 27 at the time. Soon afterward, Chocron, a 25-kilometer open water world champion, was accused of having sex with a 16-year-old girl.

Both teens have since sued Chocron and the Bolles School, an exclusive private boarding and day school south of downtown Jacksonville.

Interpol requested Chocron's capture in 2004.

Venezuela's Supreme Court said Chocron is currently prohibited from leaving Venezuela and from giving swimming lessons

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