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MercurialCannibal

Debt to Society Paid?: Luke Heimlich

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so this story broke a couple days. we have this phenom pitcher who is playing for the best team in the nation. he has a 11-1 record with an era of 0.73. he really is a fine athlete. he is almost assured to become a pro baseball player making millions of dollars. 

oh, and he is a child molester. he committed crimes against a family member for 2 years while he was a teenager.  he received two years of counseling and was made to register as a sex offender. in april he failed to re-register. his admitted crimes were only discovered via a routine search by an oregonian reporter. the editor had this to say about their discovery

it really just came down to the world deserving to know what had been hidden. oregon state did not know of his crimes. they do not check for violent or sexual crimes during admissions as some colleges do. but now you have this player on your team who is obviously a distraction at the least and a pariah at the most.

his coach had this to say when he magnanimously pulled himself from the starting rotation for the super regional tourney 

Quote

"He's a team guy and in his statement he said that he didn't want to be a distraction,'' Casey said. "I can just tell you that he is a fine young man, and every second that he's been on this campus, on and off the field, he's been a first-class individual, one that his family should be proud of, your community should be proud of, our team is proud of. I believe in Luke."

baseball was clearly more important to this coach than a now emotionally damaged child. and it is still unclear if he will also sit out the rest of the college world series. sports trump victims too many times in our society. this is just another of those instances.

thoughts? has he done his time and should be free to pursue athletics? or are his crimes great enough that he has no place in college and eventually pro athletics. already four teams in the mlb have said they would not draft him.

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This one seems fairly clear cut, at least from a legal standpoint. Part of his debt to society requires that he register as a sex offender, which he failed to do. If that eventually prevents him from say not being drafted by an MLB team, then so be it. That moral judgment will rest in the hands of the teams who either pass on him, or choose to draft him. 

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If he failed to complete the terms of his sentence (ie registering as a sex offender), then he should of course be subject to whatever penalties are associated with that. Hopefully he learns from that and continues to abide by his terms in the future. (Whether or not we ought to have the sex offender registry in the first place is a whole different discussion, but in the meantime we do so it should be followed.)

Aside from that, do I think that a previous molestation conviction should bar him from a given career--in this case, professional baseball? No. To me, criminal justice should be more on the rehabilitative side than the punitive. What do we expect people to do? Never work again? Rely on welfare? Labeling someone as a pariah for the rest of their life is counter-productive and unhelpful.So I wouldn't have a problem with this fellow being in the MLB. However, the "distraction" as it is called is a real and unfortunate side effect and I can't blame teams for taking it into account. It's not like he's entitled to a professional baseball career if they don't want to give him one. But I don't have any problems with it if a team wants him.

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27 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

He should be free to participate in any career he chooses - post mandatory, permanent castration.

So you don't think an individual with this type of history can change? 

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MC and I have discussed this at length since this came to light and yesterday after watching OSU beat Vanderbilt to advance to the CWS. Originally, I approached it for the purely legal side of things - he admitted guilt, served his time, went through counselling etc. So either you believe in the rehabilitative part of incarceration, or you don't. Which is a pretty antiseptic look at things but that's where I left it. Until I saw the press conference and the portion quoted by MC above. I felt physically ill when I saw and heard that. 

Quote

 "I can just tell you that he is a fine young man, and every second that he's been on this campus, on and off the field, he's been a first-class individual, one that his family should be proud of, your community should be proud of, our team is proud of. I believe in Luke."

I recently read Missoula and this is straight out of the college football program playbook - athletic bros before victims of sex crimes. And let me say that the coach can say all this about Luke Heimlich from a purely baseball perspective. But tell me coach, are you willing to leave your granddaughter alone with such a first-class individual? 

Anyways, if this all played out and Luke Heimlich went on to study accounting in school and went on to be a private citizen, or he toiled for some division 3 team we wouldn't know anything about him. However, he's a top prospect on a top team and he's everywhere now. And he will continue to be everywhere if he's drafted and becomes part of a MLB team. And because he's now part of the public eye, his victim who is now 11 years old has the opportunity to be confronted with him everyday. And should he be drafted and make the big leagues even more so. How great is that for her and her family?

He was 15 years old. He didn't touch her inappropriately once. This was molestation that lasted over the course of two years. He knew what he was doing was wrong. As I've read in comments in other articles, she at six years old knew it was wrong and reported it. It feels like all the talk of doing his time for his crime essentially boils down to he got a free pass for sexually assaulting a minor if he goes on to greater success. The law is cut and dry, but as we all know life is not, and really the victim deserves better here and that better is not having Luke Heimlich as a public person. He should not be drafted. He should not play professional baseball. He should go away quietly and live his first class life and we, and more importantly his victim, never hear about him again. 

 

Edited by kairparavel
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It's a hard one that. Ultimately I suppose once people have served their time they have to be able to get on with their lives otherwise what's the point of trying to rehabilitate criminals? That means they need jobs and they probably shouldn't be barred from lucrative or high profile jobs just because we don't want them to do too well.

Having said that professional sports teams are basically in the business of selling their players so I wouldn't have any objection if none of the MLB clubs wanted to do that. I can see why fans might object to actively cheering for someone like that as well rather than just letting him get on with his life.   

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This is one that I don't think there will ever be a consensus on. Were Heimlich's crimes so horrible that he should be ostracized forever, or do we hope for rehabilitation, which would include becoming a normal member of society? Before we go further, we should clear up a few points. First, as I understand it, prosecutors in Oregon won't be perusing any charges against Heimlich because they've determined that his failure to comply was an honest mistake. The laws regarding the sex offender registry in Oregon are different than those in Washington (where he was sentenced). Heimlich complied in a way that would have been fine in Washington, i.e. reporting every time he changed addresses, but didn't realize that in Oregon he had to re-register within 10 days of his birthday. Now it can rightfully be argued that it is his obligation to know these things, but the point is that it doesn't seem that he wasn't looking to shirk his obligations regarding his sex offender status. Second, regarding the idea of mandatory castration, the article I read a few days ago (I'll try to find and post a link later) stated that the recidivism rate for teenage sex offenders who've received intervention is very low, and after 5 years or so drops down to the point where they are no more likely to commit a sex crime than anyone else in the general population. Third, as regards whether or not Heimlich's crimes should effect his future prospects, well they undoubtedly already have; reports are that most, if not all, MLB teams have taken him completely off their draft boards. He's got enough talent that someone will still probably take him in the later rounds, but any hope of a high pick, with accompanying high $ signing bonus, is gone. 

Now onto my opinion. I'm not entirely sure that I'm comfortable with teenage offenders being required to register as sex offenders. Certainly at 15 Heimlich knew what he was doing was heinous, but I don't think we can treat a 15 year old in the same way that we would treat an adult, because that would mean assuming that said 15 year old possessed all the mental faculties, particularly impulse control, that an average adult would possess. I'm definitely not trying to excuse Heimlich for his horrible crimes, but I believe that he should be allowed to pursue both an education and a career in his chosen field, because believing otherwise would mean giving up on the idea of rehabilitation.

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I'm not sold on the concept that everyone can be rehabilitated. For me its a much more important precedence to do everything possible to protect possible future victims than gamble that molesters can be rehabbed. When that is compounded by the criminal failing to complete the terms of his release (failing to register) it shows me this individual is too big a threat to minors (children) to be freely moving around society let alone traveling the country as a star athlete.

He did not pay his debt to society, he was given a chance to do that and he failed to comply with the terms. He cannot begin to ever repay his debt to his victim (a 6 yr old) who he repeatedely violated over a two year period. He had his chance, even though he didnt deserve that imo. He should now be bound, gagged, shackled and chaindragged back to a cell and this time the key should be thrown away before this criminal creates more victims.

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42 minutes ago, MercurialCannibal said:

Myshkin  (who my love knows no bounds), 

would you want him one day on the dodgers rotation?

No. But I can recognize that that is a visceral emotional response that isn't tied to either my sense of justice or morality. 

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If we lived in a functional society this individual would report to a court ordered state funded mental health facility every two weeks for the rest of his life, where he would undergo analysis and therapy . He did something that is quite frankly unforgivable, committing permanent psychological damage, and the price he has paid has been extremely low. If we allow such people to walk free after their crimes we somehow must ensure, in a logical and compassionate fashion,  that they don't commit such acts again. Otherwise.... Well,  his freedom isn't worth the risk he might pose to another child. 

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I hate the phrase "repaid debt to society". I don't think that's true at all.  What does anyone do in prison that makes up for the harm they caused?  At best, the period of incarceration prevents re-offending for the duration and achieves a change in mindset to reduce the inclination to re-offend afterwards. It's basically like a toddler's time-out, except really serious crimes have a punitively long incarceration as a preventive measure. 

Rehabilitation would suggest you start working on repaying your debt to society after your release, working to improve the lives of others in some way. 

I also don't like the self-serving way that "repaid debt to society" is used to demand equal access to employment and other aspects of society.  Completing an involuntary incarceration does not necessarily make anyone more trustworthy.  We are all held accountable for our actions through reputation, there's no magic wand that re-sets reputation, it has to be earned. 

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First pitch in OSU's opening match in the College World Series and not a word about Heimlich. * They acknowledged it top of the second inning, reading a portion of his statement and thankfully without discussion. 

He went undrafted this week. 

http://www.espn.com/college-sports/story/_/id/19638591/oregon-state-pitcher-luke-heimlich-goes-undrafted

And he removed himself from the team and will not participate in the CWS.

http://deadspin.com/luke-heimlich-steps-away-from-oregon-state-baseball-tea-1796141971

Quote

“For the past six years, I have done everything in my power to demonstrate that I am someone my family and my community can be proud of, and show the one person who has suffered the most that I am committed to living a life of integrity,” Heimlich said in a statement released by a family friend.

“This situation has caused great pain to my family members over the years and I am devastated that they have to relive it all again so publicly. Today the Oregon State University baseball team is heading to Omaha for the College World Series — something my teammates, my coaches and I have worked for all year and dreamed about for a lifetime. I’m sad to say I am not joining them, because doing so would only create further distraction for my teammates, more turmoil for my family, and given the high profile of the national championship, direct even more unwanted attention to an innocent young girl.

“I want to wish my teammates the best. I hope they understand this decision as my family and I continue to work through this together. My hope is to return to OSU next year as a student-athlete and continue to earn the trust of my community.”

He's said the words no one else from OSU has to this point in acknowledging his victim, but I also can't help but note it came after he went undrafted. And he intends to play next year on a highly ranked, competitive team that will almost certainly be vying for the CWS again. And he'll still be a child molester. And a team distraction. But then again, most memories are short I suspect. 

3-0 Cal State Fullerton, top of the first, 2 outs.

Edited by kairparavel

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I mean I guess it comes down to what's more important; the rehabilitation of a child molester or the child herself. And I'm in agreement with kair that this man living a successful public life where his victim may have to see and hear about him often, or more times than she should is just not worth it. I think her recovery is more important than him becoming a rich successful athlete. Live a quiet life somewhere. Regularly successfully register and don't hurt anyone again. It would seem more unfair to me that his victim should have to witness him becoming a success and living some great life than it would be unfair he doesn't get drafted. 

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59 minutes ago, Theda Baratheon said:

Live a quiet life somewhere.

I think this would honestly be the best outcome for all involved. I think that rehabilitation can happen, even for crimes as damaging as this. It's to everyone's benefit to allow people back into society if they're no longer deemed a threat, and that means being able to find employment and develop a career. But he's certainly not owed any specific career, and putting himself out in the public eye is not helping his victim or his family in any way. So yeah, he should probably find a different vocation, and live a life of quiet obscurity, preferably in service to his community. There's dignity in that, and maybe, possibly redemption.

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This is an uncomfortable case. But I'm not a fan of moralising. I think the religious right do it all the time, and I hate it. We have laws. He accepted what society deemed his fit punishment. The reaction now seems to fall far more in the 'he can't ever have success given what he did' category. And I don't agree with that. 

 

I think he should be left alone following his life. 

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10 hours ago, Liffguard said:

I think this would honestly be the best outcome for all involved. I think that rehabilitation can happen, even for crimes as damaging as this. It's to everyone's benefit to allow people back into society if they're no longer deemed a threat, and that means being able to find employment and develop a career. But he's certainly not owed any specific career, and putting himself out in the public eye is not helping his victim or his family in any way. So yeah, he should probably find a different vocation, and live a life of quiet obscurity, preferably in service to his community. There's dignity in that, and maybe, possibly redemption.

Totally agree - especially with the last sentence. Of course I believe in rehabilitation - I want to totally believe in that concept because I do not believe in the death penalty. But like Isk said - it shouldn't lead to equal access to society. I feel like you forfeit your right to do whatever you want to do and lice your best life when you ruin someone else's.  Not interested in chasing him away with pitchforks but two years is a long time and a 6 year old is firmly a CHILD. A LITTLE child. Her life becomes more important to me than his. But living a quiet life and helping the community would seem like a dignified way to live your life after abusing someone else's.  And in a lot of ways I think even that's better than you should get if you hurt a child. But if he continually successfully registered from now on and never hurt anyone else again then and was never alone in the company of a small child then I could see that being a way that rehabilitation in concept would work. I don't like the idea of someone abusing a child and then getting the chance to be a successful public person.  Not all careers are the same/equal in this situation and he doesn't deserve a public career where his victim could cme into contact with him through media again and again.  

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A registry doesn't make sense to me. I started a topic a few years ago about a tent city growing up under a bridge in Miami because it was literally the only place in the county not near a park, school, etc. It actually led to a rise in parole violations and people falling off the registry. If we can't trust sex offenders to rehabilitate, we should make their sentence mandatory life in prison without possibility of parole.

But a professional baseball player? Lots of people never see those dreams fulfilled. Weighed against a survivor having to see a public figure, my visceral response is, "Tough shit."

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