NEWPORT, R.I. -- "Survivor" winner Richard Hatch said in an interview broadcast Tuesday that he believes he was sent to prison because he's gay, a claim the prosecutors in the case call baseless and delusional.
Hatch, speaking publicly for the first time since being released from prison to home confinement, told NBC's "Today" show that he believes the judge in his tax evasion case discriminated against him. He also accused a prosecutor of misconduct.
"I know without question that there are personal issues involved for the prosecutor. I don't know why. The prosecutorial misconduct has been egregious," he said.
When asked whether he believes that if he was heterosexual, he would not have gone to prison, Hatch replied, "I do believe that."
In court papers filed earlier this year, Hatch complained of widespread prejudice in the justice system against gay people.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office said Hatch's claims are baseless, and in a court filing in May, prosecutors pointed out that Hatch offered no evidence to support a claim that he was prosecuted because he is gay.
Former U.S. Attorney Robert Clark Corrente - whose office oversaw the case - told WPRO-AM that Hatch is "delusional." The judge in the case is now retired and could not immediately be reached for comment.
Hatch was convicted in 2006 of failing to pay taxes on his $1 million prize for the first season of the CBS reality show. He was given extra prison time for lying on the stand.
Hatch, 48, is due to be released from home confinement on Oct. 7, but has asked a judge to release him immediately for a variety of reasons, including because he was represented by ineffective lawyers.
He told the "Today" show that he has been financially devastated by his tax case.
Caption - In this Jan. 24, 2006 file photo, Richard Hatch, who won the first "Survivor" television program, departs federal court in Providence, R.I. Steven Senne, File / AP Photo