Following is an open letter I’m posting for Luke’s parents on July 20, 2018.
from Mark & Meridee Heimlich
As Luke Heimlich’s parents, we wish to specifically clarify some of the difficult decisions we originally struggled with in our family situation six years ago. First, we want to unequivocally say that we have always believed Luke was innocent of the accusation made against him. Between the legal counsel we received and the family circumstances we faced, we tried to sort out a path that would not cause harm to our granddaughter—an actual trial would have been traumatic—or jeopardize the stability of our older son’s single-parent family. The only path that seemed like it would lead to an environment that might fulfill our desperate need for family healing was for Luke to plead guilty.
We were absolutely assured by our attorney that things would not go well if we tried to fight the charge, and that a plea bargain would be the best hope. We sat down with Luke and discussed it, explaining the challenges and, to the best of our understanding, the potential consequences. We instructed Luke to take the plea bargain, because we thought it was the best course of action. We expected that in five years, according to Washington State law, the court records could be sealed, Luke would have a clean slate, and we would all move on with our lives.
Luke chose to trust us and comply, despite his strong and consistent assertion that he had done nothing. We initially believed he would be able to submit a plea while still maintaining his innocence. We did not know that a written admission of guilt would be required with the plea agreement. When we finally learned that, our backs were against the wall, and we saw no other option. The alternative would have been a trial harmful to our granddaughter and very likely incarceration instead of probation for our son. The attorney produced a short sentence that satisfied the court’s requirement, and Luke signed the plea agreement. It was documented in several places in the court records that Luke did everything required by the law, while continuing to maintain his innocence.
Since the Oregonian exposed Luke’s juvenile record last June, people have attributed all sorts of motivation to the ways we responded. It is important to understand that in less than three months there was to be a hearing for our request to seal Luke’s record and to vacate the requirement for him to remain on the registry. We had no idea how any public response from Luke or from us could possibly affect the outcome of that hearing. We were in an extremely difficult, stressful time with a multitude of voices sharing opinions on what we should or shouldn’t do. In that confusion, we felt silence was our safest course of action to avoid further media attacks and to protect family relationships.
As parents, we are extremely proud of the man Luke is. He has shown incredible strength and fortitude in the face of the scorn and derision heaped upon him. He has always stayed true to who he is. He puts the interests of others above his own, and this is evident in his actions regarding his family and his team. Luke is hardworking, courageous, and one of the most dedicated people we know. Our hope is that he will be given the opportunity to continue to pursue his passion and will achieve his dream of playing professional baseball.