Harvard coach accused of sexual misconduct has Ohio State connection

Credit: harvard.edu

Credit: harvard.edu

Harvard University’s new diving coach, who has an Ohio State connection, has been accused of sexual misconduct.

Chris Heaton has been accused of soliciting female athletes at an Indiana diving camp for nude photos and sending them photos of himself, according to our partners at AP and WBNS-TV. He has been placed on leave by Harvard officials pending a university review.

Heaton, who isn’t named as a defendant, is among the instructors described in a class-action suit filed Sunday in Indianapolis federal court against USA Diving, the sport’s governing body.

The lawsuit claims the athletes at Ripfest Diving, a camp for competitive divers, complained in 2015 that Heaton was soliciting them for the photos and sending them inappropriate pictures. The women say program officials dismissed the complaints at the time.

Harvard spokeswoman Rachel Dane said the university was unaware of the allegations when it hired Heaton in August.

Heaton didn’t immediately comment, and USA Diving and Ripfest organizers, the primary defendants, also didn’t respond to emails seeking comment, according to AP and WBNS-TV.

The Indiana lawsuit says USA Diving and Ripfest didn't do enough to protect divers from former coach Johel Ramirez Suarez, who pleaded guilty to three counts of battery last month. The suit accuses organizers of Ripfest, including owner and 2008 U.S. Olympic Diving head coach John Wingfield, of creating a culture that "tolerated sexual harassment, objectification, assault and abuse."

Heaton graduated from Miami University in 2009, and is a former assistant coach with the Ohio State Diving Club.

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