Oregon State ace pitcher Luke Heimlich pleaded guilty to a single count of molesting a six-year-old family member in 2013, when he was 15 years old His conviction was uncovered on the eve of the NCAA baseball tournament The 21-year-old left-hander is projected to be an early round pick the MLB draft He was revealed to be a sex offender after he failed update his registration status
Oregon State ace pitcher Luke Heimlich pleaded guilty to a single count of molesting a six-year-old family member when he was a teenager, court documents show.
Heimlich’s criminal history was uncovered on the eve of the start of the NCAA baseball tournament super regionals, where his team is top ranked.
The 21-year-old left-hander from Puyallup, Washington, who is projected to be an early round pick in next week’s Major League Baseball draft, was revealed to be a sex offender after he failed update his registration status in April.
The sex offender status stems from a 2012 incident, in which a then-15-year-old Heimlich admitted to taking a six-year-old relative into his bedroom in Puyallup and molesting her.
Like Heimlich, a 21-year-old left hander for Oregon State, had his criminal history revealed on the eve of the start of the NCAA baseball tournament, where his team is top ranked
Heimlich’s 2012 conviction was first reported by The Oregonian on Thursday after the paper did a routine background check on the baseball player for a feature story.
Heimlich failed to renew his registration as a sex offender in Oregon within 10 days of his most recent birthday and was cited in Benton County on a misdemeanor charge that was dismissed last month, according to court records reviewed by the AP.
That citation led The Oregonian to the Washington state case, and it obtained those records using a public information act request.
Heimlich did not respond to requests for comment from the newspaper. Beavers coach Pat Casey could not comment on the case.
At practice Thursday, Casey told reporters that Heimlich was available to pitch, but he did not announce the rotation for the weekend.
Oregon State is slated to face off in the regional final against Vanderbilt on Friday. The winner will advance to the College World Series.
The mother of the victim in the molestation case told The Oregonian that she is ‘appalled that the college he’s going to would even have him on their team’.
Oregon State Spokesman Steve Clark would not say when the school became aware of Heimlich’s status as a registered sex offender or answer questions about the case.
State police provide the university with a list of registered sex offenders affiliated with the campus on a regular basis, and the school interviews those on the list, Clark said.
He added that safeguards are put into place to protect students and staff from registered sex offenders.
Clark declined to say if Heimlich’s name was on the list that is sent to the school.
‘We’re not able to discuss the specifics of this case, when we knew, what we knew or any other student information specific to this student or other students. It’s a federal law,’ Clark told the AP.
‘What I would offer to you is we’re very aware of this matter now and we take this very seriously.’
The 21-year-old from Puyallup, Washington, who is projected to be an early round pick in next week’s Major League Baseball draft, was revealed to be a sex offender after he failed update his registration status in April. The sex offender status stems from a 2012 incident, in which a then-15-year-old Heimlich admitted to sexually molesting a six-year-old family member
OSU President Ed Ray said in a statement on Thursday that the university ‘does not condone the conduct as reported’, adding that the report was ‘disturbing’.
‘But we also understand that this case involves a criminal matter that was previously addressed by the judicial system in the state of Washington,’ he wrote.
Registered sex offenders at the school are not allowed to live in student residence halls or work with minors, Ray said.
The school also released a statement that said Oregon State follows the US Department of Education’s recommendation that universities not allow past criminal history to disproportionately hinder a student’s access to higher education.
Heimlich pleaded guilty in 2012 to one count of molestation that occurred between February 2011 and December 2011, when he was 15.
Prosecutors had initially charged him with two counts of molestation for abuse that began when the girl was four years old. They dismissed the other charge as part of a plea bargain.
Heimlich entered a diversion program and went through two years of sex offender treatment and probation, according to court records.
He also had to register as a Level 1 sex offender beginning in August 2012.
He finished his probation and treatment classes in the fall of 2014, around the time he moved to Corvallis, Oregon, to attend Oregon State University.
On April 3, 2017, Heimlich was cited for failing to update his sex offender registration status, which is required by law.
The charge was dismissed, however, due to ‘insufficient evidence of Defendant’s knowledge of Oregon reporting requirements’, according to court documents obtained by The Oregonian.
Heimlich failed to renew his registration as a sex offender in Oregon within 10 days of his most recent birthday and was cited in Benton County on a misdemeanor charge that was dismissed last month
Clark, the OSU spokesman, said he didn’t know if publicity about the case would lead to any changes in this weekend’s pitching line-up.
Heimlich is the top pitcher on Oregon State’s No. 1-ranked baseball team, compiling an 11-1 record with a 0.76 ERA and 128 strikeouts in 118 and ⅓ innings this season.
He is ranked as the 43rd overall prospect by Baseball America.
The Oregonian released an editorial to accompany their report on Heimlich in which they gave their reasoning for reporting on the molestation case.
‘Most juvenile cases are kept sealed,’ the column said. ‘But Washington considers the type of crime Heimlich committed to be so serious that the records are not confidential for juvenile offenders.
‘And since 1997, Oregon has required people convicted of felony sex offenses elsewhere as juveniles to register as sex offenders here.’
Oregonian editor Mark Katches wrote that the story of Heimlich’s molestation case wasn’t the story Oregon State baseball team Danny Moran ‘set out to tell when he began interviewing Heimlich in March’.
But once the case was uncovered during a background check the story changed, because ‘journalists must always follow the story where the facts lead us’.
Katches said the decision to publish the story came after an ‘intense discussion’ in the newsroom.
He added that the story also puts a focus on the admissions policies at Oregon State University, and noted that the school has not made it clear if the athletic department knew of Heimlich’s conviction.
‘We discovered that several of the teams that Oregon State competes against have stricter rules about whether felons can play college sports,’ he wrote.
He closed the article with the following statement: ‘This is a tragic story on so many levels. But we believed the crime against a young, innocent and defenseless child had to be disclosed and that we had an obligation as journalists to disclose it.’
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