Oregon State, the No. 1-ranked team in college baseball, was hit with a bombshell as it tries to play its way to the College World Series: Luke Heimlich, the team’s ace pitcher, is a registered sex offender.
According to documents unearthed by The Oregonian, Heimlich was 15 years old when he pleaded guilty to molesting a 6-year-old female family member. As the law requires, Heimlich registered as a sex offender when he enrolled at Oregon State in 2014, but he recently let that lapse. A routine sex-offender sweep led to Benton County sheriff’s office finding and citing Heimlich in April.
Now 21, Heimlich is considered a top prospect in next week’s MLB draft. On the field, he had an 11-1 record with a 0.75 ERA this season for the Beavers, who play Vanderbilt in the NCAA Super Regionals beginning Friday night. Oregon State went 52-4 this season en route to its No. 1 overall ranking. The Beavers haven’t yet announced their pitching plans for the series, but according to Danny Moran of The Oregonian, Heimlich could pitch.
The Oregonian talked to the mother of the victim in Heimlich’s case, who said:
“I’m appalled that the college he’s going to would even have him on their team,” she said.
Baseball America has Heimlich, a junior, ranked as No. 43 overall in this year’s draft class. But that could change before Monday’s draft. In fact, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan says three MLB teams aren’t even considering Heimlich now.
Spoke with three teams today already that completely took him off their draft boards. https://t.co/VPIZJiST4l
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 8, 2017
Heimlich, baseball coach Pat Casey and athletics director Scott Barnes all refused to comment to The Oregonian. But after the story hit, Oregon State University president issued a statement saying:
“I find this account disturbing and want to let you know that OSU does not condone the conduct as reported. But we also understand that this case involves a criminal matter that was previously addressed by the judicial system in the state of Washington.
We take this issue very seriously, and I want to be clear that each day the safety and security of our students, faculty and staff is Oregon State University’s number one priority. Our policies and procedures seek to provide a safe learning environment for our entire community and to ensure that all prospective and current students are treated fairly and equitably.
By university policy, all OSU students – including student-athletes – are subject to the same academic criteria, admissions standards, codes of conduct and community standards while applying to and attending the university. OSU follows U.S. Department of Education recommendations that universities not allow a person’s criminal history to affect disproportionately a student’s access to higher education and opportunity for a better life.”
Heimlich was initially charged with two counts of felony molestation but plea bargained down to one count. According to court documents, the abuse occurred between September 2009 and 2010 and again between September-December 2011. The first time, the victim was 4 years old. The second time, she was 6. The girl told investigators that Heimlich “touched her on both the inside and outside of the spot she uses to go to the bathroom.” As part of his plea, he admitted to the molestation.
Here’s more from The Oregonian:
Heimlich entered a diversion program, received two years of probation and was ordered to attend sex offender treatment for two years, according to court records. He was sentenced to 40 weeks of detention at Washington’s Juvenile Rehabilitation authority. But that sentence was suspended and he served no time, according to court records, because he successfully completed probation.
Heimlich was ordered to register as a Level 1 sex offender in Washington beginning Aug. 27, 2012. Washington characterizes Level 1 offenders as having “the lowest possible risk to the community and their likelihood to re-offend is considered minimal.”
Heimlich finished probation and the court-ordered classes in September 2014, about the same time he moved to Corvallis to join Oregon State’s baseball team.
The NCAA has no national policy on whether juveniles who committed felonies can play sports.
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