Former Ohio State, USA Diving coach pleads guilty to sexual battery of underage diver

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COLUMBUS (WBNS) – A former USA Diving and Ohio State club diving coach pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual battery Thursday related to sexual encounters he had with an underage diver.

Under a plea deal reached with prosecutors, William Bohonyi, the former OSU assistant dive coach, could spend up to 10 years in prison.

It’s not clear what Bohonyi’s punishment will be. He will be sentenced on August 12th.

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If he gets prison time, it could be followed by five years of post-release supervision.

During Thursday’s hearing, Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Michael Holbrook explained the process to Bohonyi – noting that by pleading guilty to two counts of sexual battery Bohonyi would be giving up his rights to a trial, an appeal and would have to register as a sex offender for life.

“Knowing all the potential consequences, you still want to enter this plea?” Judge Holbrook asked.

Bohonyi: “Yes your honor.”

Bohonyi left the courtroom quickly after Thursday morning’s hearing and went down a back stairwell and did not respond to a 10 Investigates reporter’s question for comment.

His attorney, Brad Koffel, declined to comment.

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien acknowledged that his office agreed to drop two charges – one count of sexual battery and another count of pandering sexual oriented material involving a minor; that latter charged alleged that Bohonyi had created a video of a sex act but O’Brien said prosecutors agreed to drop it because they could not prove Pryor’s age in the evidence.

“Their relationship occurred over a period of time both when she was a minor as well as occurred over a period of time when she was over an age when it would not be unlawful. And so pinpointing the exact date of the video was the issue,” O’Brien said.

Koffel had told reporters following a previous court hearing in December that Bohonyi was not Pryor’s coach and that the relationship was “questionable” but no illegal.

“This was just strictly a lawful, questionable relationship - but not illegal."

Koffel also said that while Bohonyi and Pryor were both associated with The Ohio State Dive Club, he argued that Bohonyi was not in a position of authority or Pryor’s direct coach.

When pressed on this at the time, Koffel said: “He had no direction, supervision, he couldn't put her on the team, take her off the team, discipline her. Couldn't show her how to do particular dives. He was one step above from being the lifeguard.”

10 Investigates found a document from 2014 in which university investigators said that “Mr. Bohonyi stated that he has had coaching responsibilities over (Pryor) for two years.”

Bohonyi has repeatedly declined to comment to 10 Investigates in the past.

Bohonyi was fired by The Ohio State University in August of 2014 for a violation of the university’s sexual harassment policy. He was also banned from coach for USA Diving in 2015.

According to a copy of the university’s administrative report, the university substantiated Pryor’s claims that the two had sexual relations while she was an underage minor and he was an assistant coach.

It also noted that the two had engaged in a consensual/sexual relationship.

10 Investigates asked the victim, Estee Pryor, about this during an August 2018 interview. While most news organization typically do not identify victims of sex crimes, Pyror chose to share her story publicly.

“Of course I said that. When I was at a national meet, surrounded by all the people that supported me in this athletic career, It's a career. Oh yeah, I said it was consensual,” she said.

10 Investigates: “Do you believe it was consensual?”

Pryor said: “No.”

Estee says she was harassed, had threatening notes and felt pressured by powerful people with connections to OSU and the diving community to not pursue criminal charges.

A criminal investigation was opened in 2014 by Ohio State Police, but a university spokesman has said it was closed at Pryor’s request. That investigation was re-opened in January of 2018 at Estee’s request, a university spokesman confirmed. Estee says she went back to police in January of this year after learning Bohonyi had been teaching private diving lessons at the Westerville Community Center despite being placed on a banned list by USA Diving in 2015 - seven months after OSU fired him for sexual harassment.

Pryor’s attorney, Robert Allard, also provided 10 Investigates with a copy of a Franklin County Children Services record that shows investigators substantiated claims of the alleged sexual abuse.

Reached for comment Thursday, Estee Pryor told 10 Investigates that she feels “vindicated” by Bohonyi’s guilty plea.

“I feel vindicated that he his being held accountable for all the pain he and other caused me that made me feel like what he did wasn’t wrong,” Estee Pryor told 10 Investigates Thursday via email. “Vindicated that what he was tl and cruel to me, to the people who continued to give him jobs, support and access to underage girls through their justifying actions. That he is being held accountable for the first time in his life for the derailing of my life, abusing my body, innocence, self-dignity and the sport I put so much in to and choosing to hurt me…”

Estee Pryor had sued the Ohio State University, Bohonyi and USA Diving – the outlet that can catapult athletes to the Olympics (and where Bohonyi was affiliated before being banned in 2015) – alleging that Bohonyi abused her and that the two other institutions didn’t do enough to stop it.

Ohio State was dismissed as a defendant in the lawsuit. A federal judge in Indiana order the civil lawsuit be closed until Bohonyi’s criminal matter is resolved.

Two other divers from Indiana University made similar allegations against Bohonyi in that lawsuit.

Pryor’s attorney, Robert Allard, released the following statement to 10 Investigates Thursday that read in part:

“We are relieved that the criminal case is over. Now is the time to hold USA Diving responsible for failing to fulfill its(sic) mandatory reporter responsibilities and protect young minor divers entrusted to its care from a known predator…”

Allard also alleged that USA Diving didn’t do enough to remove Bohonyi from coaching situations. He wasn’t banned from coaching by USA Diving until February of 2015. Estee Pryor raised her allegations months earlier in August of 2014.

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