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USOC Ignored Sexual Assault Accusation Against Harvard Diving Coach For Years, But Now Justice Is Served



Chris Heaton, the former diving coach at Harvard University, was placed on leave on October 2 by the school after allegations of sexual misconduct against him were detailed in a federal lawsuit filed by 50 women.

According to CNN, Heaton was hired in August but is placed on leave, pending a review by Harvard, a university spokesperson said.

What Happened?

A class-action lawsuit against USA Diving Chris Heaton, 31, who is accused of sexual misconduct. On Tuesday, October 9, he has officially resigned from Harvard just over a month after he was hired in August.

The lawsuit, filed September 30, 2018, claims the athletes at Ripfest Diving, an Indiana camp for competitive divers, complained in 2015 that Heaton was soliciting them for the photos and sending them pictures of his penis. The women say program officials dismissed the complaints.

Harvard hired Chris Heaton in August 2018 — but placed him “on leave” roughly two months later pending a review of allegations of sexual misconduct that surfaced in a class-action lawsuit. https://t.co/LoXYRP6Dlp

— The Harvard Crimson (@thecrimson) October 10, 2018

According to The Crimson, Heaton is not named as the defendant and is only named in the suit.

Athlete Director Robert L. Scalise announced Heaton’s decision to resign in an email sent to Harvard “coaches and staff” Tuesday afternoon.

“Today I shared the news that Mr. Heaton has communicated to Harvard that he has decided to step down from his role,” Scalise wrote in the email. “On his place, Tracey Bird will step in as our interim diving coach, effective immediately.”

“Harvard University was unaware of any allegations of sexual misconduct when Mr. Heaton was hired as the Head Coach for Diving in August 2018,” Harvard spokeswoman Rachael Dane said in a statement, according to NBC News.

“Upon learning of these allegations from media reports, Harvard immediately placed Mr. Heaton on leave, pending a review of these allegations by Harvard University.”

Heaton is a married father of three. He couldn’t be reached immediately for comments.

The Defendants

According to the Daily Mail, the defendants include USA Diving, a national governing body of the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) and the state-level administrative body, the Indiana Diving Association.

John Wingfield, the owner of Ripfest, and former coach Johel Ramirez Suarez are also defendants.

Suarez was arrested in 2017 after two women and a minor alleged he rubbed their vaginal areas on multiple occasions when he was supposed to be helping them stretch after workouts, according to court records. The records also showed Suarez pleaded guilty to three counts of battery in September 2018 and was sentenced to about a year and a half in jail.

In an interview with police, Ramirez Suarez admitted to touching the vaginal area of one of the women on three occasions, according to the Indianapolis Star.

The suit claims that Wingfield ignored young athlete’s complaints about the behavior from Suarez and Heaton. The young women then turned to Chris Zukas, another coach at the academy, for help.

“Zukas was instrumental in getting Heaton to leave Ripfest,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit does not elaborate on how Zukas was able to get Heaton to leave Ripfest.

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