USATSI_10895379_168381442_lowres

A Royals fan’s plea to Luke Heimlich to change the dialogue and empower your victim

Since Dayton Moore mentioned the Royals were exploring the possibility of signing Oregon State pitcher Luke Heimlich to a contract, there has been plenty of reaction, discussion and debate. Rarely, if at all, have we heard from a survivor of sexual abuse. A reader of BP Kansas City reached out to us and offered to tell his story and to offer his perspective as a survivor. We think what he has to say is important and we thank him for trusting us as a forum. For obvious reasons, he wishes to remain anonymous.

I’ve only told a few people my story. I’m not sure why I am telling my story now other than at 41 I finally have the courage to unashamedly say: I was sexually abused by a family member when I was 5.

Ok, now for an abrupt transition to a few sentences on my love of baseball. At 41, I’m such a baseball nerd that I “scout” players for fun. I’ve paid good money for a class through SMWW to learn from a retired scout the basics of evaluating players. The height of my obsession occurred a couple of years ago when I used a chunk of my annual bonus to buy a Stalker Pro II radar gun. I’m the weirdo that attends high school, college, minor league and even professional baseball games to get radar gun readings and other notes on players for no other reason than fun. I’ve even written a few reports on players that have found their way on the internet that others have presumably read, which is fun. For me, watching baseball and evaluating players is pure joy.

All this to say, I experience this joy every year during the CWS, and watching the player Luke Heimlich pitch against Arkansas in the first game of the CWS finals was no different. There is a lot to like about Heimlich as a stud LH Friday night starting pitcher for Oregon State. A fastball in the low to mid-90s with life and late burst that proved difficult for the Arkansas Razorbacks despite them having one of the better offenses assembled in recent college baseball. Heimlich isn’t a perfect prospect though, his slider is a little slurvy and even though it induced several swinging strikes, his command of the pitch (or lack thereof) is a big reason why Oregon State lost. All this to say, even without a noticeably effective third pitch (at least in this game) and a lack of command of his slurvy slider against Arkansas, Heimlich is a solid front-line college starting pitcher that any team in professional baseball would love to have in their organization.

Except for one thing, Heimlich is an admitted juvenile sex offender who, at 15, pleaded guilty to one felony charge of molesting his 4-year old niece. My abuser was about the same age, I am the nephew and I was 5.

I didn’t have the courage the 4-year old girl had when she told her parents that Luke Heimlich abused her. I was too scared and confused. When my abuser told me to never tell anyone – I didn’t. I’ve lived with this pain, confusion and the effects of being an abuse victim for over 35 years. The effects are as straightforward as wetting the bed for years when I visited the house where the abuse happened. They are as devastating as the shame of having a secret that makes you bad, dirty, unwanted and worst of all, unlovable. They are as confusing as having your entire reality gaslighted. Simple questions become an existential crisis: Would my parents even believe me if I told them I was abused? Will you believe me if I told you that I was abused? Would my abuser acknowledge their abuse if confronted with my reality?

Reportedly, my beloved Kansas City Royals are considering signing Luke Heimlich. As an abuse victim (putting my love for evaluating players aside) I have some thoughts on this. Dayton Moore has called Heimlich’s situation “a very complex deal” and it unquestionably is complex. Moore cites Heimlich’s continued denial of the events as a possible defense and has suggested that he may not have the “courage” to sign the player. I have also read that Heimlich has paid his debt to society and that experts believe he has a very low risk of recidivism. Perhaps these are all relevant.

As an abuse victim under apparently similar circumstances, however, I question their relevance. My hope is to share with others the pain caused to the victim by simply having this conversation, especially the continued denial by Luke Heimlich. I would bet all my worldly possessions that if confronted by my reality, my abuser would deny anything happened despite my ability to retell in vivid detail the events that happened 35 years ago. I want to bring attention to the fact that simply having this conversation requires the victim to relive this terrible incident. Perhaps most painful to the victim, every defense of Luke Heimlich results in the gaslighting of that sweet little 4-year old’s reality.

I will probably never receive acknowledgment of my reality by my abuser. I have accepted that I will never receive an apology or an explanation of why those terrible things happened to me. All I know is that my abuser clearly knew what they did was wrong or they wouldn’t have asked me to never tell anyone and I wouldn’t have had to live with the deafening silence from my abuser for all these years.

My sincere hope is that Luke Heimlich chooses a different path. A path of courage. I beg Luke Heimlich to have the courage to change the dialogue. Acknowledge your victim’s reality, even if the events are different in YOUR reality. You’ve paid your debt to society and you have this one, solitary defining moment to affect this story in a positive way. Empower not only your victim but also every other victim of family sexual abuse, by embracing and defending your victim’s story. Ask for forgiveness and even if you never receive it work like hell to impact others in a way that shows that you have the humility and the courage worthy of a second chance.

If you’re unwilling to courageously champion your victim’s story, then I hope and pray my beloved Royals do not sign you. Because, even though you have a great collegiate profile, a plus FB, above average control and the mound presence to succeed as a likely future big leaguer, this story really isn’t about you – it’s about that precious, sweet little 4-year old girl. I pray we (and the Royals) have the courage to choose her and not the tantalizing promise of a collegiate star.

Related Articles

9 comments on “A Royals fan’s plea to Luke Heimlich to change the dialogue and empower your victim”

Jeremy

Well said. Let all of us not forget, the girl is the one that matters here. Luke will likely be just fine whether he plays pro ball or not.

Mike

Sooooo, this story was written anonymously?

We know the writer. He wished to remain anonymous. We respect his wishes.

Mike

If only Luke could do the same.

Dat Thomas

So sorry that the poor abuser Luke couldn’t remain anonymous! That’s not fair!

Bill

I agree with those who thought the essay sounded heartfelt and impassioned. And gut-wrenching. That said, I wonder about some content. About reliving this tragedy. Heimlich is not doing the reminding; the media are. Does the victim relive this, too? This depends on how much she reads, sees or is told. From my extensive reading on this, I never noticed the victim’s family making any mention of this until an Oregonian reporter unearthed it. I did not see any family protesting Heimlich’s success at OSU until after media outlets published details. Here’s my big question: How does Heimlich change the dialogue by acknowledging the girl’s reality? How does this work? Does Heimlich remake his story to fit the girl’s narrative, especially if he’s insisting he’s innocent? Would it be better for him to lie and say something happened if nothing really did happen? Who or what most affects the girl’s reality? Her uncle or her parents and support group? Heimlich’s movements and counseling have been well documented since last June. How have those in the girl’s family handled her trauma? How is this “story” really about her? The media choose how this story will be told. The author’s situation and Heimlich’s niece’s story are similar in that both say they were molested. The stories and probably the aftereffects diverge. The author was too terrified to report this. Completely understandable. So there was no criminal justice involvement. There appeared to be no aftercare or counseling available for the author. I’m more than aware of untreated psychological trauma. While we don’t know if the girl has undergone counseling, but these days that opportunity is available for a lifetime. This is all about the Royals now. I can’t imagine what will change or affect the girl.

Josh

Well said. As for the writer im sorry he was never able to get resolution for his situation. Our family had the same situation where my 5 year old sister was the victim and our 12 yr old cousin the perpetrator. Now before continuing i am saying the situation is like the letter writer not luke hemlich. I have no knowledge of his situation and have no idea if he is guilty or not. My point is our family kept it in house and eventually my parents and sister were able to forgive the cousin. I can tell you that forgiveness from my sister/parents was a powerful thing. My sister at least according to her in forgiving him was able to move past the incident. Even to the point of having a relationship with our cousin. I tell this only for the writer in the hope that one day you can have the same peace my sister and parents have as well.

Now this situation is completely different. Hemlich maintains his innocence. Either way without knowledge of the situation no one has the right to tell the kid he cant play baseball. Ive noticed the mob is really hammering dayton moore for even discussing it. Some even calling for his job. Even demanding hemlich has no right to play baseball. Well i will continue to ask the mob until i get an answer, what job is he entitled to have. Because if you are the arbitor then you better be specific.

TheChiSportsFan

Thank you very much for your transparency and sincerity in writing this. I’ve been incensed at the cases of athletes like Reuben Foster, the Auburn football player, the entire Duke Lacrosse team and other athletes whose accusers eventually admitted they falsely accused them.

But in cases where no one can ever prove either account, and stories like yours where it involves children, I hadn’t weighed the possibility that the victim’s side could be affirmed regardless of admitting fault.

I pray that you find permanent peace and that your plea is widely considered.

nikadimuz

First, thank you for your bravery to tell us your story. I am sorry you ever had to experience those horrible events.

I work in the child welfare field and have to work with children who have experienced the same types of traumatic events as you. There is nothing that tears my heart and stomach out more than thinking about having to put a victim on the witness stand to relive the events one more time – after telling the story at least three prior times.

Bill, what I can tell you is that the victims do relive it, every day. There is no getting away from it. Having your abuser become a professional baseball player will only deepen and broaden the wound. It will only become more difficult for the victim to overcome the pain and all the emotions this author so eloquently stated. All those people who do not know and should not know what happened, thinking they are doing a good thing, asking her about her uncle the professional baseball player will only cause more damage. I for one hope the Royals play no role in this.

Leave a comment

Use your Baseball Prospectus username