Eszter ‘Estee’ Pryor: From Olympic Hopeful to Sex Abuse Victim
Estee Pryor was already grabbing attention as a diving sensation when she won a bronze medal at the 2013 Pan Am Juniors competition in Tuscon, Arizona. Her victory there is one of the reasons Estee looked to upping her game by joining the Ohio State Diving Club, which practices near her hometown.
It’s important to note that the diving club is certified by USA Diving, which is the National Governing Body of Diving as designated by the U.S. Olympic Committee.
One of the diving club’s coaches, William Bohonyi, quickly befriended Estee, who is the named plaintiff in a class action lawsuit that was filed in early July 2018. The lawsuit alleges the diving club and USA Diving failed to protect Estee and other young female divers from sexual abuse, exploitation and forced labor.
Bohonyi is, of course, also a defendant because he was the alleged sexual abuser.
“The coaches and executives who select America’s diving team are authority figures with enormous power over the athletes they coach,” attorney Robert Allard said. “This imbalance of power is exploited by predator coaches because they know that young athletes are under intense pressure to obey their coaches or risk losing their Olympic dream.”
In June 2014, Estee was babysitting for former all-American diver Steve Skilkens, who employs Bohonyi, when the coach invited himself over for a visit. Nothing happened then, but shortly thereafter Bohonyi escalated his relationship with Estee from friendly to sexual.
Case in point: On July 4, 2014 Boyonyi asked Estee to send him naked pictures of herself. She was 16 years old and did as she was told. A few days later, Bohonyi forced Estee to perform oral sex on him.
Estee turned 17 that same month and traveled with the diving club and Bohonyi to Bethesda, Maryland for a tournament. Bohonyi forced her to have sex with him. It was also during that trip that one of Estee’s teammates saw texts between Bohonyi and Estee that “alarmed” her and told the diving club’s head coach what she’d seen.
At about the same time Ohio State received “hundreds” of nude photos of Estee; as a result Bohonyi was fired in late August 2014 and the university notified USA Diving.
But why weren’t the photos turned over to police?
“After having actual knowledge of the sexual misconduct with hundreds of pictures, Ohio State still failed to notify law enforcement,” attorney Rex Sharp said. “The deliberate indifference to protect athletes at Ohio State is a long-running failure of its administration.”
Seven long months passed before USA Diving banned Bohonyi from the sport in February 2015 – but it was a ban they didn’t enforce, the lawsuit says. So, Bohonyi continued to force Estee to engage in oral, anal and vaginal sex, telling her she “owed him” for getting him fired.
Fast forward to the winter of 2017-18: Evidence shows Bohonyi continued coaching underage girls at an Ohio community center, while also working for the Nayked Apparel Company owned by the aforementioned Steve Skilkens.
Nayked Apparel is a USA Diving sponsor.
“This commercial relationship between Nayked Apparel and USA Diving allows Bohonyi to thrive as a pedophile and provides him with ‘cover’ that he is not banned from participating with USA Diving. Child athletes and parents are confused by this commercial relationship,” the lawsuit says.
The civil lawsuit traces the complicated relationships between Bohonyi, the Ohio State Diving Club and USA Diving, and draws a picture of a coach whose status with USA Diving allowed him to continuously victimize young, female divers.
Estee is back home now in Ohio, after suffering mental and physical distress that was so severe she was forced to forfeit a diving scholarship to Penn State.
Her class action lawsuit asks that a jury trial be held to bring Bohonyi, the Ohio State Diving Club and USA Diving to justice.