Ohio State released today its investigative report into what happened when multiple people told the university in 2014 that then-assistant diving coach William Bohonyi was having a sexual relationship with a teenage diver. The documents goes over the multiple people who reported what they had heard, as well as how different Ohio State employees had different observations they wanted to include. Two reported it and confronted Bohonyi about it. A third, head diving coach John Appleman, instead pointed out to investigators that he had heard the diver had been untruthful in the past. Appleman currently is on leave from Ohio State. The investigation ultimately found that Bohonyi had violated the university’s sexual harassment policy, and he was fired later that month.
The report does not address everything the diver said in her federal lawsuit filed last week against USA Diving and Ohio State’s diving club—that Bohonyi maintained a relationship with her after his firing, which included further sexual encounters with him on Ohio State’s campus, that she was bullied at school by other members of the university’s dive club, and that Ohio State never forwarded relevant text messages to law enforcement.
Deadspin has emailed an Ohio State spokesperson for comment and will update the blog if they respond.
The investigation began on Aug. 11, 2014, when a complaint was made to the Office of Student Life Human Resources “alleging sexual harassment/prohibited relationship against William Bohonyi.” Who made the first complaint isn’t specified, but the report does say that “it was reported by a number of sources” who said that Bohonyi was in a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old member of the Ohio State Diving Club.
The first interview detailed is with the diver, who is called the complainant. She described Bohonyi as “fun and flirty.” She said he made “flirtatious jokes” with her and other divers and once told her “man if I was 17,” according to the report. But he always kept his behavior professional at meets and practices, she said.
From there, the diver outlined the sexual encounters that she said happened with her and Bohonyi, which also were discussed in her lawsuit. When she was babysitting children of another diving family, things escalated into a sexual relationship. Then she heard from Bohonyi that his boss, Appleman, had found out, according to the report.
According to the report, the final tally of text messages between Bohonyi and the teenager reviewed by Ohio State was “approximately 700 text exchanges” between June and August of that year. What Ohio State did with with any copies of text messages after closing its investigation isn’t specified in the report.
The next interview described in the report is with Bohonyi. He says that the diver “filled the void of girlfriend,” and admitted to being flirty with her but said they “never officially had a relationship,” the investigator wrote. Their text messages, which he confirmed, were flirty jokes not meant to be taken seriously because “neither one of them thought ‘things were serious,’” the report states. Over and over again, when pressed on what what happened, Bohonyi would admit to saying things to the diver but insist they were jokes while denying any sexual contact. When they were alone, he said, they just talked. A text message saying “thank you for being gentle for my first time” was, he said, “a joke and not a representation of real life,” according to the report.
There also were Snapchat messages that are described in the report as Bohonyi appearing to coerce the diver into changing her story to line up with his. Bohonyi said was him “trying to be supportive of the complainant so she would eventually tell the truth, which in Mr. Bohonyi’s opinion was that they did not engage in any sexual activity,” per the report.
Appleman, the head diving coach, told investigators that he reported what happened when he found out about the relationship on Aug. 10. First Appleman heard about it from Bohonyi, who called to tell him it was just a rumor, per the report. Then he heard from two parents, including the diver’s, and later spoke to the diver herself. All said the diver and Bohonyi had been in a sexual relationship.
But Appleman’s interview closed with him defending Bohonyi, saying he never saw anything flirtatious and “he has heard from several sources that there have been instances in the past where the complainant was not truthful, however has no firsthand experience with evaluating her credibility in a circumstance to this caliber.” Appleman is on leave.
Christine Thompson, an assistant director of recreational sports, also filed a report on Aug. 10 when she heard about the relationship between the diver and Bohonyi and immediately told her supervisor, Zachary Skinner. She and Skinner confronted Bohonyi about it, and she recalled that Bohonyi admitted to text messages and flirting but insisted there was no relationship. Thompson also said she talked to the diver and her parents, and while the diver does at one point waver, she said they did have sexual encounters. Like Appleman, Skinner said he didn’t see any flirting but he added that “he is disappointed by the actions Mr. Bohonyi admitted to in his conversation with him,” the investigator wrote.
The investigation closes by saying that, while the investigator could not prove definitely when and where sex acts occurred, the text messages and Bohonyi’s own admissions about his behavior were violations of university policy.
Bohonyi was fired on Aug. 29. The full report is below.