Richard Hatch: I'm Gay, Therefore I'm Imprisoned

Original Survivor champ maintains innocence on tax evasion, says discrimination landed him behind bars

By Natalie Finn Aug 19, 2009 1:00 AMTags

UPDATE: In an unexpected turn of events, Hatch was taken into custody Tuesday afternoon and is being held at the Barnstable County Correctional Facility in Bourne, Mass.

Per the Providence Journal, no one was answering questions at press time as to why Hatch was relocked up, just hours after his Today show appearance.

Wonder what year Richard Hatch thinks it is.

Just saying, because the inaugural Survivor winner thinks he was sentenced to more than four years in prison because he's gay.

The convicted income-tax evader, who was busted for not giving Uncle Sam his due of that $1 million grand prize, continued to maintain his innocence Tuesday on Today, telling Matt Lauer that he faced discrimination from both the prosecutor and judge during his 2006 trial.

"I know, without question, that there are personal issues involved for the prosecutor—I don't know why," Hatch said, as the ankle-monitor-wearing felon and Lauer toodled around his sister's Newport, R.I., home, where he's serving out the rest of his 51-month sentence under house arrest.

"The prosecutorial misconduct has been egregious," he said. Hatch also reiterated his issues with the judge, who, according to Hatch, refused to let members of the jury be questioned about their feelings toward homosexuals.

When asked whether he really meant to suggest that he got prison time because he was a gay reality-TV star, Hatch answered in no uncertain terms.

"I didn't mean to allude to it," he said. "I meant to state that definitively. Yeah, I do, I do believe that. I don't think you or anyone else could deny that we as homosexuals face discrimination."

Well yeah, sometimes, but...

Before he was sentenced, he was in fact convicted of failing to pay taxes on nearly $1.5 million in winnings/earnings (including the Survivor prize) and could have ended up behind bars for 13 years.

So, theoretically, he caught a break.

Not that Hatch will ever see it that way, though. Not only does he maintain his innocence of any wrongdoing, the former corporate trainer and real estate agent claims that he is "financially devastated."

"Imagine the financial devastation," he told Lauer. "To have been removed from your family for the past four years, taken away from any opportunity to make a dime."

The latest pair of indignities he's had to face: In April, a judge wouldn't allow him to make plans to move to Argentina with his husband, and last month he was denied the opportunity to participate in a 10th-anniversary Survivor special in Samoa.

"I'll let the facts speak for themselves," Hatch said. "It's not me playing the system. That's what I said in the beginning, that I didn't think of life after Survivor as a game. I'm not out to play anything."

Of course the U.S. Attorney's Office found Hatch's discrimination claim "delusional."

"I think it's preposterous,'' Robert Clark Corrente, the former Rhode Island U.S. Attorney who prosecuted Hatch, told the Providence Journal. "The evidence was this guy got a 6-foot Styrofoam check for $1 million on national television and never paid his taxes. It wasn't really that complicated. His sexual orientation didn't have anything to do with it.''

(Originally published Aug. 18, 2009, at 3 p.m. PT)


Hatch may say he's innocent, but a conviction in a court of law is enough to land him in our Guilty Gallery.