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Baseball team's signing of convicted child molester stirs controversy

2018/08/07 21:57:59

Photo courtesy of Lamigo Monkeys

Taipei, Aug. 7 (CNA) A Taiwanese professional baseball team found itself embroiled in controversy Tuesday after it announced the signing of a convicted child molester from the United States to compete in the local league.

The Taoyuan-based Lamigo Monkeys announced Tuesday that it has reached a deal with 22-year-old American lefty, Luke Heimlich. The player arrived in Taiwan that day and will initially practice with the Monkey's minor league team, according to the team.

However, the five-time Taiwan Series champions have been widely criticized for the signing, after it was revealed that Heimlich was found guilty of child molestation in the U.S.

According to U.S. media reports, Heimlich pleaded guilty, at the age of 15, to sexually molesting his six-year-old niece. As a result, the player who was seen as a favorable high round pick in the 2017 Major League Baseball (MLB) draft went undrafted two years in a row.

In 2018, Heimlich denied the allegations, saying he pleaded guilty to "quickly dispense with the case and for the sake of family relations."

Asked to comment, Monkeys general manager Justin Liu (劉玠廷) did not immediately confirm the team was aware of the pitcher's history before signing him.

Instead, Liu said the team has closely followed the American player for some time and it is "truly regrettable if a potential first round pick player has no place to showcase his talent."

Liu also noted that the ball club has received letters of recommendation from Oregon State University, where Heimlich played college ball, and an MLB team.

The team is preparing related documents to make sure he will be eligible to play in the local Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL), it added.

CPBL Deputy Secretary General Wang Hui-min (王惠民) said the league will review the case in accordance with its rules.

According to CPBL regulations, the league has the authority to decide whether the U.S. player is eligible to play.

Article 94 of CPBL's rules on the management of foreign players stipulates that individuals convicted of major violations that could adversely affect the league's image can have their contracts voided with immediate effect.

(By Joseph Yeh)