USA Diving Sex Abuse Lawsuit

Posted in Lawsuits,Ohio State,USA Diving,USOC

Class Action Molestation Lawsuit Filed Against the USOC & USA Diving on Behalf of Olympic Hopeful

The Ohio State University is alleged to have known about the sexual abuse of an Olympic diving hopeful and did not notify law enforcement.

Indianapolis, Indiana – July 16, 2018 – A group of nationally prominent sex abuse attorneys have filed a class action lawsuit, case 1:18-cv-02113-WTL-MJD, alleging sexual abuse, exploitation and the forced labor of Team USA hopeful diving athletes by Olympic coaches and executives entrusted to protect them. The plaintiff is Eszter Pryor, once a 14-year-old diving phenom who vied for a spot on the US Olympic diving team at the 2012 US Olympic Trials.

In the lawsuit, Pryor claims that she was sexually abused on multiple occasions by coach William Bohonyi while training with him at The Ohio State Diving Club, which practiced on the campus of The Ohio State University. The club was sanctioned by USA Diving and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).

Although Bohonyi was the first coach publicly banned by USA Diving, it is alleged that the organization did not stop Bohonyi from coaching USA Diving members or doing business with a company which prominently employs Bohonyi. Like Ohio State University, the lawsuit claims USA Diving also failed to report Bohonyi to law enforcement.

The lawsuit alleges that by 2014, USA Diving had received complaints that Bohonyi was routinely sexually abusing multiple female athletes. In July 2014, The Ohio State University came into possession of hundreds of nude pictures of Pryor as a minor. Instead of immediately turning over the photos to law enforcement as required by mandatory reporter laws, The Ohio State University illegally conducted its own internal investigation. The University then notified USA Diving of its findings, but again, did not notify or provide law enforcement with its findings. Had law enforcement been notified, the lawsuit claims that Pryor would not have suffered another seven-months of sexual abuse.

“It is surprising and disappointing that The Ohio State University failed to follow required safe sport protocol for the diving club using OSU facilities. Worse yet, after having actual knowledge of the sexual misconduct with hundreds of pictures, OSU still failed to notify law enforcement. This deliberate indifference to protect athletes at OSU is a long running failure of its administration,” attorney Steve Estey said.

The Ohio State Office of Human Resources investigated the allegations made by Pryor against Bohonyi and recommended to USA Diving that he be banned. The lawsuit claims that USA Diving did not act until 7 months later in February 2015 when they declared Bohonyi “permanently ineligible for membership,” thus allowing Bohonyi to continue to sexually abuse Pryor during this entire period, including on the campus of The Ohio State University.

The USOC selected USA Diving as its National Governing Body for diving, which means that any USA diving athlete who wants to compete in the Olympics must be selected by USA Diving and be named to the US Olympic diving team.

“The coaches and executives who select America’s diving team are authority figures with enormous power over the athletes they coach,” said Attorney Robert Allard of San Jose, CA.  “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.”

The lawsuit claims that while the USOC had hundreds of millions of dollars available to spend on the safety and wellbeing of athletes whose labor earned this money, the USOC did nothing from 2010-2015 to ensure that USA Diving was complying with Safe Sport program mandated by the USOC. Ohio State, it is alleged, had even more money to spend to protect athletes using its facilities, but also failed to do so.

Through May of 2018, USA Diving was still allowing Bohonyi to privately coach USA Diving members under the age of 18. Pryor, as a result of the sexual abuse harm, lost her scholarship to Penn State and is now back in Ohio.