Former Loyola men’s golfer Ben Holm was sentenced to 10 years in a Georgia prison after accepting a plea deal stemming from a 2013 rape case when he was in high school.
Until recently, Holm was pursuing a double major in finance and economics at Loyola and was a member of the Loyola golf team from the fall of 2013 until the spring of 2016 when he left the program after his junior year for unspecified reasons. Although the rape happened after Holm committed to play golf at Loyola as a high school senior in Georgia, it’s unclear whether the Athletic Department was ever aware of Holm’s pending charges as it has decided to remain silent in the wake of Holm’s sentencing.
On April 27, 2013, Holm, who was 18 at the time, raped a 15-year-old girl on a playground at the Country Club of the South in Johns Creek, Georgia, according to the Fulton County District Attorney’s (DA) office. The two had attended a party where alcohol was consumed.
Prosecutors initially charged Holm with statutory rape on Dec. 16, 2014, more than a year and a half after the attack. In Georgia, statutory rape is a misdemeanor if the victim is between 14 and 16 years old and the defendant is less than four years older than the victim.
In April 2015, two years after the rape, prosecutors performed a month-long investigation, which revealed enough evidence to upgrade the case to a felony charge, according to the Fulton County’s DA’s office.
Following the felony charge, Holm went on to play in three contests with the Loyola men’s golf team in the fall of 2015.
Holm pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and statutory rape on Dec. 5, one week after the trial began and while the jury was deliberating, according to the Fulton County DA’s office.
Holm signed his National Letter of Intent to play golf at Loyola on Nov. 29, 2012 — almost five months prior to the attack — and graduated from from Johns Creek High School in May 2013.
The Loyola Athletic Department had no comment on the situation, wouldn’t disclose information regarding Holm’s possible scholarship and didn’t confirm whether he had athletic or academic scholarships. Loyola’s Athletic Director Steve Watson and Deputy Director of Athletics Jermaine Truax, the administrator in charge of the golf program, declined multiple interview requests from The PHOENIX.
Loyola Director of Communication Steve Christensen said the university was unable to provide a statement on Holm’s case due to his privacy and procedural rights as a student.
Students have expressed frustration with the university’s decision to remain silent after news broke of Holm’s sentencing. Sophomore Ashley Kennedy created a petition online to try to demonstrate how students don’t feel safe on campus given the circumstances of this situation.
The 19-year-old communication studies major told The PHOENIX she is demanding the university release a statement apologizing for its lack of transparency and educate the Loyola community about rape culture and sexual violence. The petition has already garnered more than 500 signatures in five hours.
Brenda Bernstein, Holm’s attorney, couldn’t be reached for comment.
Prosecutors sentenced Holm to 10 years in prison and 10 years on probation, according to the Fulton County DA’s office.