CRIME

Former USA Diving Coach Pleads Guilty To Sexual Battery Of Teen Diver

Former diver Estee Pryor says William Bohonyi repeatedly pressured her into sex when she was 16 years old at Ohio State University.

A former USA Diving and Ohio State University diving coach has pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual battery stemming from allegations that he sexually abused a teenage diver.

As part of a plea deal reached with prosecutors, William Bohonyi could spend up to 10 years in prison and will have to register as a sex offender in Ohio. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 12.

Estee Pryor, a former Olympic diving hopeful, has accused Bohonyi of pressuring her into sex beginning when she was 16 years old and he was her 27-year-old coach. Bohonyi also videotaped and took photos of the sexual acts, she has alleged.

At least two other divers have accused Bohonyi of sexual misconduct.

Pryor was feeling “mixed emotions” over Bohonyi’s guilty plea, her attorney Robert Allard told HuffPost on Thursday.

“She is relieved and feels vindicated that has happened; however, she is disappointed and saddened that this justice was not brought earlier,” he said.

Ohio State University and USA Diving, the U.S. national governing body of diving as recognized by the U.S. Olympic Committee, should have done more earlier on to protect their divers from sexual predation, Allard added.

It started through talking about my personality, telling me I was the most honest and mature and kind girl he’s ever met. It became sexual very fast. Estee Pryor

Bohonyi’s attorney Brad Koffel did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment. He has stated previously that his client had a consensual relationship with Pryor.

But Allard threw cold water on that claim.

“It’s tough to be consensual when the athlete is 16 and 17 years old,” he told HuffPost. “There’s an imbalance of power that exists between a coach and an athlete such that consent is not genuine; it is forced.”

Pryor is one of at least 50 current and former divers who have filed a class action lawsuit against Bohonyi and USA Diving. The allegations include sexual exploitation of children and negligence.

Allard said USA Diving knew about Bohonyi’s sexual interactions with Pryor for seven months before banning him from the organization, allowing him to continue interacting with minors and putting other divers at risk.

USA Diving did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.

Pryor spoke out about her experience with Bohonyi in a July 2018 interview with NBC’s “Megyn Kelly Today,” saying he began coaching her two years before the alleged abuse began.

“It started through talking about my personality, telling me I was the most honest and mature and kind girl he’s ever met,” Pryor said. “It became sexual very fast.”

“I was known as Estee Pryor, the diver,” she continued. “And when this happened, my identity was changed. Because somebody like him had such an effect on me.” 

The charges against Bohonyi are part of a wave of cases against Team USA and collegiate teams sweeping the country. Last year, Larry Nassar was sentenced to life in prison for sexually assaulting young athletes he treated as a doctor for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University.

USA Swimming has been accused of ignoring or covering up hundreds of sexual abuse allegations against its coaches and officials.

Last week, Ohio State released the results of an independent investigation into former athletic trainer Dr. Richard Strauss, who died in 2005. It concluded he had sexually abused at least 177 students during his 20 years working at the school.

“By no means is this case unique in the Olympic movement,” Allard said. “The medals and money priority that the USOC places on matters has to change. We need to put the safety of children first and foremost especially when they’re being raped and sexually assaulted by their coaches.”

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