Two former USA Diving athletes have sued the sport’s national governing body, claiming the organization failed to act when the athletes accused a former coach of coercing and forcing them into frequent sex, according to the Indianapolis Star.
The lawsuit focuses on coach Will Bohonyi, who formerly coached at Ohio State University and competed at Indiana University. One of the plaintiffs is a former Ohio State diver, and the other is a former Indiana University diver.
The Ohio State University diving club describes itself as the “second highest ranking junior competitive USA Diving team in the United States,” and the school is named as a defendant in the lawsuit along with Bohonyi and USA Diving.
“Bohonyi psychologically coerced (the woman) into believing that she was required to perform sexual services in exchange for her continued involvement in diving,” the lawsuit read. “He preyed on her age, vulnerability, and dreams of becoming an Olympian, and used the power structure and imbalance of power (coach/athlete) to make her believe she was required to sexually service him in exchange for her involvement in diving for Team USA.”
More about the accusations
According to the lawsuit, Bohonyi allegedly began coercing the former Indiana diver into daily sex in 2009 by telling her she owed him in exchange for helping her achieve her athletic goals.
The Ohio State diver first reported Bohonyi’s alleged abuse in 2014. She was 17 at the time, and claims Bohonyi forced her into numerous sexual acts, and into sending him hundreds of naked photos. She said she was sent home from a meet in Tennessee after telling her head coach about the allegations, while Bohonyi was allowed to stay.
According to the university, OSU notified police and child protection services of the accusations, and opened an administrative investigation that resulted in Bohonyi’s firing. The accuser requested that police close their investigation.
The lawsuit accuses USA Diving of knowing about these accusations from the two women from the time Ohio State fired Bohonyi, but failing to take any action for six months, at which point the organization put him on the banned coaches list.
Tangled web of alleged abuse
The lawsuit comes while Ohio State is dealing with accusations that a team doctor sexually abused athletes in at least 15 sports in the 1980s and 1990s.
That situation has gained national attention because several former wrestlers have accused Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) of ignoring reports of the doctor’s abuse. Jordan has denied any knowledge, and numerous former coaches have supported Jordan’s denial.
Another U.S. Olympic governing body, USA Gymnastics, is still dealing with the fallout from the conviction of former team doctor Larry Nassar, who sexually abused hundreds of gymnasts as the Team USA doctor, and at Michigan State University.