Luke Heimlich, Oregon State

Heimlich To Sit After Sex Crime Revelation

News

The Oregonian dropped a bombshell on Thursday, reporting that Oregon State ace lefthander Luke Heimlich — the national ERA leader — had been convicted of sexually molesting a 6-year-old relative in 2012. In light of that revelation, Heimlich released a statement Friday saying that he has asked to be excused from competition in advance of OSU’s super regional against Vanderbilt.

Here’s the complete statement, released by Heimlich’s attorney and reported by the Oregonian:

I have taken responsibility for my conduct when I was a teenager. As a 16 year old, I was placed on juvenile court probation and ordered to participate in an individual counseling program. I’m grateful for the counseling I received, and since then, I realized that the only way forward was to work each day on becoming the best person, community member and student I can possibly be. I understand that many people now see me differently, but I hope that I can eventually be judged for the person I am today.

I’m so proud of our team’s accomplishment and don’t want to be a distraction. Therefore, I’ve respectfully requested to be excused from playing at this time.

This seems like the right course of action, because the news of his conviction created a firestorm in the media. Assuming his teammates were unaware of his past, one can only wonder how they must have reacted to the details. According to court records obtained by the Oregonian, this was not a one-time offense, but recurring abuse of a 4-to-6-year-old girl over the span of two years. How are his teammates supposed to process that kind of revelation? This story is bound to be a distraction for the Beavers with or without Heimlich on the mound, but he was right to take himself off the field for the sake of his teammates.

And considering Heimlich has had a historic season (posting a 0.76 ERA) for an OSU team that currently has the best winning percentage in the history of college baseball, his removal from competition is huge news, solely on a baseball level. There are plenty of more important non-baseball angles to this story, relating to the treatment of sexual offenders, the treatment of juvenile offenders and the nature of rehabilitation. Should someone who has been convicted of such a depraved offense — even as a juvenile — be given the opportunity to earn an athletic scholarship, or a spot on a Division I college baseball roster? When did the Beavers know about Heimlich’s past, and what should they have done once they found out? Does the commission of a heinous crime disqualify someone from pursuing a career in baseball, or should he be allowed to chase his professional ambitions as long as he can weather the storm of public scrutiny?

Heimlich has a right to a life after he completed his sentence (which did not include any jail time in this case, due to a plea bargain). But he doesn’t have a right to a baseball career — that’s a privilege granted by his university and/or professional team. And as Yahoo! reported Friday, some MLB teams are already taking him off their draft boards in light of this revelation.

The victim’s life was affected in a horrific way by Heimlich’s actions, and that’s the worst part about this story. Heimlich’s own professional future is now in question, and that’s only right. One must imagine his Oregon State teammates are left to feel like Heimlich betrayed their trust. Now they must deal with the fallout and find a way to keep their incredible season going in the face of a devastating emotional blow and a tsunami of negative attention on the eve of a super regional.

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