Luke Heimlich, arguably the best pitcher in the nation, has been the center of Oregon State’s turnaround from missing the tournament last season, to the top overall seed in the nation this year. Recently, a crime long silenced from Heimlich’s past has emerged. According to The Oregonian, reports of Heimlich’s disturbing past surfaced about two months ago, revealing that he is in fact a registered sex offender in the state of Washington.
When Heimlich was just 15 years old, he was accused of molesting a 6-year-old female family member. Heimlich was then convicted of one count of child molestation in August 2012. As part of the conviction, Heimlich was sentenced to two years probation, and also was ordered to attend sex offender treatment for those two years as well. Upon his completion of probation and treatment, his 40 week sentence at a juvenile detention center was then dismissed. Since August 27, 2012, Heimlich has been required to be registered as a sex offender in the state of Washington. The Oregonian was able to obtain these court records through a public records request, as juvenile court records are not automatically confidential in Washington.
In Oregon, juvenile sex offenders from other states are required to register as a sex offender if the crime is a felony in Oregon. In Heimlich’s case, child molestation is a Class A felony in Oregon, which required him to register upon enrolling to Oregon State. The Oregon State Police does send a list of sex offenders to the school, which the school then crosschecks with their student body, meaning that any list given to the school after 2014, Heimlich’s freshman year, would have Luke Heimlich on it. No comments where made on behalf of the police department or the school as to when Heimlich registered or when the school learned of Heimlich’s status, citing both state and school privacy laws. As required by state law, Heimlich needed to register every year, and in failing to do so this year, the case was put into Oregon court records for the first time. Because they declined to comment, it is unclear when the school learned of Heimlich’s criminal record, and if he even disclosed the information to the school at all.
Oregon State policies do not prohibit convicted felons from competing in athletic events, as is the case with other schools in the Pac-12. The NCAA also does not set any policies for juveniles convicted of felonies, therefore leaving Heimlich’s ability to compete solely up to Oregon State. While they may still intervene, the NCAA has no prior precedents to base any punishment they may deem necessary for either Heimlich or Oregon State.
At the time this article was published, Oregon State officials have not decided on a punishment for Heimlich.
The victim’s mother, unnamed by The Oregonian, says she does not keep any tabs on Heimlich, and is “appalled that the college he’s going to would even have him on their team.”
It is hard to place the blame on one singular person for allowing Heimlich’s crimes to remain silent for so long. Assuming the school learned of Heimlich’s conviction in 2014, before his stardom reached its pinnacle, there would be no incentive to protect a star player, which has unfortunately become the main concern for many big-name school’s athletic departments. Even if he were a star at the time when his crimes surfaced to administrators, what is the reward of “protecting” him? Extra wins, and maybe some extra money for the school, although baseball is not even close to the top earner at Oregon State? If they were indeed hiding this, it marginalizes the pain felt by the victim.
It will be interesting to see how Oregon State will handle this situation. If there is any common sense left in this world, Heimlich will not be allowed to pitch the rest of the season, or ever again at Oregon State.