This story was updated on July 12 to include a quote from Russell Prince, Maggie Kehring’s attorney.
When Olympic show jumper Rich Fellers was arrested in 2021 on allegations that he sexually abused his then 17-year-old student Maggie Kehring, he pleaded not guilty to all charges. For the two years that followed, while Fellers’ case wound its way through the court system, through various trial dates that were set and delayed, and through the addition of federal charges to the original state charges, that official attestment of innocence stood. Until Tuesday.
Standing before U.S. District Judge Karin Immergut in a federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon, Fellers pleaded guilty to interstate travel to engage in illicit sex with a minor.
“I have no comment on the Rich Fellers case,” Kehring said Wednesday. “The public record speaks for itself. Right now, I send my thoughts to those victims of sexual abuse navigating the very emotional and difficult legal process.”
The change of plea, which had been expected since earlier this year, was part of a deal between Fellers and state and federal attorneys dealing with his case that should allow him to serve his sentence in a medium-security federal prison instead of an Oregon state penitentiary. As part of that deal, in May federal charges were added to the state felony charges Fellers faced, accusing him of crossing state lines while on the horse show circuit to engage in “illicit sexual conduct with a minor,” so that his case could be moved to federal court.
On Wednesday, July 12, Fellers appeared in Washington County (Oregon) District Court to change his plea on the four felony charges of second-degree sexual abuse that he first pleaded not guilty to on July 6, 2021. Instead, he pleaded guilty to two counts and now is scheduled for sentencing in October.
Washington County officials said Fellers has agreed to serve four years in prison on the federal charge and a concurrent 30-month sentence for the state charges, local TV station KOIN 6 reported.
The case first became public in February 2021, when Fellers and his wife, Shelley Fellers, were added to the U.S. Center for SafeSport’s list of temporary suspensions. Kehring spoke to the Chronicle about the situation and the backlash she personally had received from fellow riders.
When Rich, 63, Oregon City, Oregon, was arrested by local authorities in June of that year on suspicion of sexually abusing Kehring, then a minor, at her apartment in Portland, his SafeSport suspension became permanent.
Shortly after his arrest, Kehring’s family helped launch #WeRideTogether, an online public-awareness campaign to address issues of sexual misconduct in equestrian sport.
In the meantime, Shelley filed for divorce March 23.
“For all the horrible people in the equestrian community that said terrible things about Maggie, I think there can be no clearer vindication for what she’s been through [than this],” said Russell Prince, attorney for Kehring. “There’s quite a few people who owe Maggie Kehring and the Kehring family some heartfelt apologies.”