The past has come back to haunt an Oregon State University athlete in a case that's dividing the college community. Ace pitcher Luke Heimlich, 22, was convicted of molesting his 6-year-old niece when he was 15. As part of a plea deal when he was 16, Heimlich was placed on two years' probation and was required to register as a low-risk sex offender for the next five years, reports the New York Times. Last June, the Oregonian revealed Heimlich's status as a sex offender after he neglected to make a necessary update to the state's sex-offender registry; cops hit him with a citation. Shortly after that, Heimlich's five years on the registry were over, and his record was expunged. However, reporters had gotten wind of the citation and the word was already out, and Heimlich left the team for the remainder of the 2017 season.
Considered a top MLB draft pick before his record came out, the left-hander, who had a 0.76 earned run average last year, was passed over. Once again pitching for Oregon State, Heimlich has repeatedly denied committing the crime he was convicted of and says the plea deal was what he and his parents thought was the "best option to move forward as a family." All of this has roiled Beaver fans, sexual abuse survivors, and even family members, with some saying Heimlich has fulfilled his court-mandated obligations and deserves a second chance. His coach is mum, except to say he's "a fine young man." The victim's mother, the ex-wife of Heimlich's older brother, thinks he shouldn't be allowed to play in college or for the pros. Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports agrees: "Heimlich's admitted actions are intolerable, heinous. His privileged presence on the mound mocks every victim of sexual violence." (Read more Major League Baseball stories.)