OSU students weigh in on star pitcher's controversy, coach speaks about team
CORVALLIS, Ore. -- On the eve of the NCAA Super Regionals, Oregon State's star pitcher Luke Heimlich is facing public scrutiny after criminal charges from the player's past recently surfaced.
Heimlich's criminal past came to light when, on April 3, an officer with the Benton County Sheriff's Office charged Heimlich for failure to register as a sex offender.
Prosecutors later dropped that charge, believing that Heimlich made an innocent mistake because he did not have sufficient knowledge of Oregon's reporting requirements.
The crime happened eight years ago in Pierce County, Washington, where Heimlich is from.
According to a 2012 court document from their juvenile court, Heimlich sexually molested a child he knew over a two-year period, beginning in 2009 when she was four years old and continued until she was six.
Heimlich pleaded guilty to one count of child molestation. The court ordered him to undergo treatment and register as a sex offender.
University officials described the news as "disturbing" but fell short of taking action, saying Thursday that “OSU follows the U.S. Department of Education's recommendation that universities not allow criminal history to affect disproportionately a student's access to higher education and opportunity for a better life."
Under the university's practices, students who are listed as registered sex offenders meet with representatives from student affairs and the department of public safety.
They are not allowed to live in campus residence halls or work directly with minors.
Meanwhile, the Oregon State baseball team opens a best-of-three games series against Vanderbilt Friday in Corvallis. Heimlich has been Oregon State's best pitcher this season.
OSU head baseball coach Pat Casey was asked at an already-scheduled media conference whether or not Heimlich could potentially pitch in this series.
"I expect that potentially he could be pitching this weekend,” said Casey, who added his thoughts about the team’s vibe heading into the series. “(It’s) great. (The) guys are excited about a great Vanderbilt team coming in here."
Some students also spoke out about the situation Thursday. Some said learning of Heimlich's past and that he didn't re-register in Oregon was disheartening and shocking while some say they want to hear more and see how the university will move forward.
“Especially if he wasn't registered, I feel that's a conscious decision,” said OSU student Erika Graves, “I don't know, I can't speak for that. But that something you know pertaining to the law and something as serious as sexual assault, I'm sure things are very clear on what you have to do and what you shouldn't have to do."
"That's kind of unfair if he has scholarships and things like that because there are many people out here that haven't done things like that, who are paying for (for school) themselves," said OSU student Marissa Lambert.
"I'm kind of waiting to see how it plays out because, while there could be something behind it, there could also be other stuff we don't know,” said OSU student Nicholas Johansen, “and I don't want to make a judgement without knowing everything."