Luke Heimlich, arguably the nation’s best college pitcher, has asked to be removed from the Oregon State team as a result of the firestorm surrounding his felony conviction of a sex offense when he was a teenager.
Heimlich, according to a tweet from KMTR-TV in Oregon, also issued a statement:
The statement, in full:
“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.”
Heimlich’s shocking decision came just hours after a report said he was scheduled to pitch Friday against Vanderbilt. but that didn’t happen.
When he was 15-years-old. Heimlich pleaded guilty to one count of molestation, a felony on the state of Washington, where he lived at the time. The Oregonian was preparing a profile on Heimlich when it uncovered his past and broke the story that included disturbing details of what happened:
The girl told investigators that inside Heimlich’s bedroom, he pulled down her underwear and “touched her on both the inside and outside of the spot she uses to go to the bathroom,” according to court records. “She said that she told him to stop, but he wouldn’t,” the documents state, and that “it hurt” when he touched her.
As part of his conviction, Heimlich had to register as a sex offender. While most states keep juvenile court records private, Washington allows some to be made public, but that’s not what brought this case into public view. It seems that Heimlich let his sex offender registration in Oregon lapse, and he was caught up in a sweep of the Benton County (OR.) Sheriff’s Department hunting down sex offenders. That record made its way into the Oregon court system, and the Oregonian discovered it while writing a profile on Heimlich.
Heimlich has been dominant this season, He’s 11-1 with a 0.76 ERA with 128 strikeouts in 118 innings and a WHIP — walks plus hits per innings pitched — below one, at 0.98. Baseball America ranks the 6-foot lefthander as the 31st best prospect in the upcoming three-day MLB draft, which starts Monday. That means he’s in line to be a first-round pick and command a million-dollar plus singing bonus. (Last year’s No. 31 pick received a $1,350,000 bonus.)
The Heimlich case brings to the fore the subject of athletes and preferential treatment. Last year, the Stanford swimmer Brock Turner was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman and served about three months in jail — even though the prosecution asked for 14 years.