Lawsuit: Ohio State diving coach sexually abused athletes; university failed to stop him

Lawsuit: Ohio State failed to protect sexual assault victim
Lawsuit: OSU Diving coach sex abuse
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A central Ohio diving coach is accused of sexually assaulting underage athletes. And a lawsuit says Ohio State failed to stop it.

The explosive and disturbing allegations are part of a class action lawsuit filed last week in federal court.

The former Ohio State coach in question is Will Bohonyi. The defendants named in the lawsuit include USA Diving and the Ohio State University Diving Club.

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The suit accuses Bohonyi of forcing two former athletes into repeated sex acts, and USA Diving and Ohio State of not acting to stop him.

According to the suit, one of the victims is a former New Albany diver who was coerced into sex with her coach between August of 2014 and February 2015, when she was 17 years old and a member of the diving club.

It also alleges while she was 16 years old, he told her to send him naked pictures of herself, which she did.

The suit says he "preyed on her age, vulnerability, and dreams of becoming an Olympian...to make her believe she was required to sexually service him in exchange for her involvement in diving for Team USA."

The suit says several of the sex acts between the two occurred on the campus of OSU.

The suit says he had also sexually abused another Team USA Diving Member from Indiana between 2009 until 2012.

According to the lawsuit, a teammate of the OSU victim told OSU's head diving coach about the sexual abuse in August of 2014.

"By July of 2014 the Ohio State University came into possession of hundreds of nude photographs of (the accuser) as a minor," said plaintiff's attorney Jessica Wegg. "Rather than doing what they are legally obligated to do, and informing law enforcement of child abuse and turning over this child pornography, they conducted their own internal investigation. And after it was completed only reported their findings to USA Diving, still didn't report it to law enforcement. The Ohio State university recommended to USA Diving that they should ban Will Bohonyi, and it wasn't until seven months later that USA Diving did make him permanently ineligible to be a member of USA Diving. But he has been until May of this year, privately coaching athletes."

According to the suit, Bohonyi was doing that private coaching right here in central Ohio.

A spokesperson with Ohio State University tells 10TV that immediately after learning of the allegations in 2014, it placed Bohonyi on leave, opened an administrative investigation and notified USA Diving, OSU Police and Franklin County Children Services.

The spokesperson added its criminal investigation was closed at the request of the accuser.

The university terminated Bohonyi in August of 2014, and said it shared its findings with USA Diving.

The Ohio State University Police Department re-opened its criminal investigation in January of 2018, after being contacted by the former dive club member.

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien says his office is reviewing that investigation for possible criminal charges.

10TV has also learned Bohonyi was a swim coach at the Westerville Community Center. City officials say last summer a parent had rented the pool for Bohonyi to give lessons. They also say staff and lifeguards were on duty during sessions.

A police report from June of 2017 alleges an altercation between Bohonyi and an unidentified man. According to the report, the man said Bohonyi “had sexually assaulted his step-sister.” He also allegedly confronted Bohonyi saying “You see my sister, again, you’re a dead man.”

Because Bohonyi declined to give a statement, no charges were filed.

Statement from USA Diving Inc.:

Providing a safe environment for our members is of tremendous importance to USA Diving, and we take these matters very seriously. USA Diving is unable to comment further at this time.

Statement from Ohio State University:

The safety and security of our students, faculty, staff and visitors is Ohio State’s top priority and the university does not tolerate sexual misconduct of any kind.

Immediately upon learning of the allegations regarding a dive club member in 2014 against Will Bohonyi, the university placed him on administrative leave and opened an administrative investigation.

The university notified Franklin County Children Services, the Ohio State University Police Division (OSUPD), and USA Diving. OSUPD opened an investigation Aug. 19, 2014 and their investigation was closed at the request of the complainant. OSUPD also notified law enforcement in Maryland on Aug. 19, 2014. The university’s administrative investigation continued and resulted in Mr. Bohonyi’s termination on Aug. 29, 2014. The results of the administrative investigation were reported to USA Diving in 2014.

The OSUPD investigation was re-opened on Jan. 30, 2018 after the university was contacted by the former dive club member. The investigation is pending and OSUPD is working with the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office.

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