CORVALLIS — Oregon State Beavers baseball pitcher Luke Heimlich proclaimed his innocence in his first on-the-record media interview about his legal case since The Oregonian/OregonLive reported last June that he had pleaded guilty as a teenager in 2012 to one count of sexually molesting a 6-year-old female family member.
“Nothing ever happened,” Heimlich told The New York Times in one of a series of interviews, adding that he had pleaded guilty so that the case could be resolved quickly and “for the sake of family relations,” the Times reported.
“I always denied anything ever happened,” Heimlich told the Times. “Even after I pled guilty, which was a decision me and my parents thought was the best option to move forward as a family. And after that, even when I was going through counseling and treatment, I maintained my innocence the whole time.”
The victim’s mother could not immediately be reached for comment by The Oregonian/OregonLive on Monday.
Heimlich called his case “a delicate family situation,” but declined to elaborate. Asked by the Times whether he would plead guilty if he had a chance to do it over again, Heimlich said, “I am not sure.”
Previously, Heimlich’s only public comments this season had come following his OSU pitching performances and had focused only on baseball.
Last week, through Oregon State University spokesman Steve Clark, Heimlich declined an interview request by The Oregonian/OregonLive to discuss his case. He also declined The Oregonian/OregonLive’s interview request before the 2018 baseball season.
Heimlich did not respond to several requests for comment by The Oregonian/OregonLive in June 2017 before the original story’s publication.
In the wake of the story, Heimlich decided to step away from the team, which went on to win NCAA super regionals and advance to the College World Series. Heimlich released a statement then that said he had “taken responsibility for my conduct when I was a teenager.”
As part of his guilty plea, Heimlich entered a diversion program, received two years of probation and was ordered to attend sex offender treatment for two years, according to court records.
“I’m grateful for the counseling I received,” Heimlich’s June 2017 statement said, “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.”
Heimlich returned to the Beavers this season, with the support of coach Pat Casey and OSU President Ed Ray. The senior left-hander is 11-1 this season with a 3.01 ERA and owns the school record for strikeouts.
Oregon State (35-7-1, 14-6-1 Pac-12 Conference) is ranked No. 4 in the country and sits in second place in the Pac-12 standings behind No. 2 Stanford (37-6, 17-4).