The U.S. Equestrian Federation announced Wednesday that it will not renew its contract with U.S. Dressage Team Technical Advisor Debbie McDonald.
McDonald, 67, who led the U.S. Dressage Team to silver at the Tokyo Olympics, has served as the team’s technical advisor since taking over from Robert Dover after the 2018 FEI Tryon World Equestrian Games (North Carolina). Her contract had expired, and USEF had been in negotiations to extend it as recently as last week, according to Dressage-News.
“Debbie McDonald’s contract with USEF has expired and will not be renewed at this time,” a USEF spokesperson said. “We are continuing to move forward with the balance of the plans that have been developed following a detailed review involving stakeholder feedback.”
The decision comes in response to McDonald being named, along with her husband Bob McDonald and the 32nd District Agricultural Association (California), as defendants in a civil lawsuit made public last week that alleges Bob McDonald sexually assaulted underage students as a hunter/jumper trainer working in California in the mid-1970s.
The suit, filed Nov. 11 in California Superior Court, accuses Bob McDonald of sexual battery, alleging he raped two teens, one around age 13 and the other repeatedly between the ages of 14 and 16. The two women, identified only as Jane Doe 7018 and 7019 in the suit, were at the heart of a previous U.S. Center for SafeSport investigation into Bob that led to him being banned for life in June 2020. He appealed the decision and requested an arbitration hearing, but before that took place, SafeSport issued an “administrative closure” of the case and lifted all sanctions.
The suit accuses Debbie of negligence and negligent supervision for allegedly failing to protect the teens, claiming she “knew or had reason to know that Bob McDonald had previously engaged and was continuing to engage in unlawful sexual conduct with minors.”
The final defendant in the case, the 32nd District Agricultural Association, owns the Orange County Fair Grounds where Bob operated his training business at the time. A representative of the organization declined to comment on pending litigation.
Debbie declined to comment on the USEF decision.