Beauty queen accused in plane disturbance speaks out after acquittal

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- A former beauty queen accused of ugly behavior on an international flight speaks for the first time about the incident and her acquittal.

Carmen Lechin, Miss Venezuela 1984, was charged with interfering with a flight attendant on a Bogota, Colombia-bound United flight two years ago. She was accused of being drunk and becoming so violent during the flight, the pilot turned it around and she was arrested. Because of her notoriety, the story was international news.

"It's very embarrassing. It's not the person I am," said Lechin, a Houston mother of three children.

Lechin was acquitted in federal court October 2 and now wants to clear her name.

"I want people to know the truth of what happened, that this was an injustice. Many of the things that were said in the press were not right," she told Eyewitness News.

Lechin, who was travelling with her now-estranged husband, Dr. Alex Lechin, and teenage daughter says when she put her head on her husband's shoulder, he hit her leaving some bruising. She pushed his arm back. The flight attendant got involved and it escalated.

"Right away, he calls the flight attendant and tells the flight attendant 'She's bothering me' and the flight attendant then says, 'Oh man, I saw that.' I said, 'You didn't see the whole thing,'" she explained.

"He overreacted. He became hysterical, in fact, because of the husband and then he handcuffed an innocent woman and after he'd done that, he needed to exaggerate her conduct to cover-up what he'd done," said Andino Reynal, Carmen's defense attorney. She added she wasn't drunk and didn't curse.

The male flight attendant testified. Lechin was found not guilty after a 3-day trial.

The Lechins, married for 25 years, are still embroiled in a contentious divorce.

"She (Carmen) might have been reacting to the kind of tumultuous relationship they always had. Anybody who knows them knows that, but that wasn't Alex's doing to bring the case. This was the U.S. Attorney's office," said Dick DeGuerin, Dr. Lechin's attorney.

For Carmen, who could have faced 20 years in federal prison, the verdict was a relief. She now hopes to put this chapter behind her.

"I consider myself very blessed and I know it's not going to take long time for people to know what happened," she added. null
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