Naked gymnast faces charges over San Francisco transit stop antics

SAN FRANCISCO Tue Jun 18, 2013 4:49pm EDT

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A trained gymnast whose naked acrobatics and harassment of passengers at a San Francisco public transit station were captured on video and circulated widely on the Internet is facing criminal charges over his antics, authorities said on Tuesday.

Yeiner Alberto Perez Garizabalo, 24, was caught on video doing handstands and contortions on turnstiles and front flips off a concrete newsstand - all in the nude - at a Bay Area Rapid Transit District station on May 10.

Video that drew more than half a million hits on YouTube shows dozens of people watching idly or ignoring Garizabalo as he accosted at least three passengers during his gymnastics routine, putting a man in a headlock and charging two women before being arrested by BART police.

Garizabalo was committed to a nearby hospital after his arrest but no police report was filed and he was released the following day, said Stephanie Ong Stillman, spokeswoman for the San Francisco district attorney's office.

He was rearrested on Monday, more than a month after videos of the incident went viral, on charges including felony false imprisonment, misdemeanor battery and misdemeanor sexual battery. He was being held on $100,000 bail and was due in court on Tuesday afternoon to face the charges, Stillman said.

Garizabalo was a member of the ClownSnotBombs Circus, an acrobatic performance troupe in Berkeley. He dropped out of the group shortly before the BART station incident.

"(Garizabalo's) memory of the incident … does not match what happened in the video," Kristen Parks and other members of ClownSnotBombs said in an email to Reuters.

"When asked to describe what he remembers in his own words, he describes being in a play where everyone was actors. (He) does not remember attacking anyone," she said, adding that the troupe believes Garizabalo may be suffering from a psychological disorder.

Parks said Garizabalo had since watched the video of his behavior at the BART station. "Now that he has seen the video and understands the gravity of what really happened he feels both guilty and horrible for what he has done," Parks said.

Officials from the public defender's office were not immediately available to comment, and the office could not confirm that his case had been assigned to one of its lawyers.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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