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Rob Gage

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  • I think i t would behoove the Hobsteter group NOT to delete comments which are being greyed out. Leave them and stand up to these people.

    Comment


    • I agree that the 5.7 number doesn't really tell much specifically - except equestrian is a very small sport compared to other sports in my area - even gymnastics. Basketball has huge numbers of kids in comparison. I agree that total number of underage participants versus total number of sanctions would be an interesting comparison. My family has participants in basketball, gymnastics and equestrian. Even gymnastics! I have not observed in the other two sports any hand wringing or bad mouthing of safesport or even a change in how things are done. It is either an "about time" or "no problem, business as usual". I personally think its quite telling about the mentality or fear from past bad behavior of some in this sport.

      I mean good god, some tolerate horse killers - in a sport that professes to love horses...

      Comment


      • Originally posted by AllOverFarm View Post
        My feelings about having a statue of limitations date for SS is... no way. If someone reports abuse from 20 plus years ago, it has merit. How do we honestly know if there aren’t actually victims from 15, 10, 5 years or from yesterday. Any more recent victims may don’t be ready to step forward.
        Perhaps one of the reasons victims from long ago step forward is throughout the years they grow to realize it wasn’t their fault & they want to save others from being abused. It’s a form of healing.
        Just because someone finally got called out for their abusive behavior from 20 years ago, doesn’t mean they have been good citizens since that 20 years has passed. It just means that they haven’t been caught or called out for more recent things.
        I believe you have hit the nail on the head. Studies shared earlier in this thread show that the recidivism rate for child molesters who get therapy is very high and that they don’t stop as they get older. (Sorry, I have been here on this thread since day 1 and I have no idea how to find those posts.) Given those facts, it is highly unlikely that RG.”grew out of it”. There are very likely victims from the more recent past, maybe even quite recent.

        You can be sure that, thanks to the disgusting vitriolic victim shaming and denial on social media, it is highly unlikely we shall hear publicly from any more victims recent or otherwise.

        Comment


        • Originally posted by fair judy View Post

          Navin prefers innuendo and gossip mongering. ........ the info on Conway is actually on her facebook page which is remarkably accessible.
          Navin would have to be a really, really, bad lawyer to post what Conway did. She could risk disbarment if she publicly referred to a non anonymous child abuse reporter a murderer.

          Granted Safe Sport is not perfect, as nothing is perfect. There may be significant flaws; if due process protections for the accused can be strengthened WITHOUT reducing the rate at which the guilty are weeded out, make the changes.

          However, I don’t buy Navin’s claim the she is pursuing a noble purpose and attempting to fix a flawed process. She is attempting to undermine the legitimacy of the sanction that SafeSport handed down to RG by attacking the credibility and legitimacy of SafeSport.

          If you undermine the legitimacy of the SafeSport sanction of RG, in my mind you are also undermining the validity of the reports and the reporters.

          The classic way to bash SafeSport is to call it a witch hunt. Here’s another irony for the FB mob: the reason that the actual 17th century witch trials have had such a bad image in the last couple of centuries is that in modern day thinking, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A WITCH! From this belief, now widely held, it follows that of the people (mostly women) tried, found guilty, and executed as witches, 100% were clearly innocent!

          From a logical and historical perspective, smearing SafeSport as a “witch hunt” amounts to saying “THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A PEDOPHILE!”

          Comment


          • Originally posted by oneequestrienne View Post

            I believe you have hit the nail on the head. Studies shared earlier in this thread show that the recidivism rate for child molesters who get therapy is very high and that they don’t stop as they get older. (Sorry, I have been here on this thread since day 1 and I have no idea how to find those posts.) Given those facts, it is highly unlikely that RG.”grew out of it”. There are very likely victims from the more recent past, maybe even quite recent.

            You can be sure that, thanks to the disgusting vitriolic victim shaming and denial on social media, it is highly unlikely we shall hear publicly from any more victims recent or otherwise.
            THIS.

            The idea of some sort of “self reporting” system seems to mirror what is done in many companies and other groups in terms of people struggling with alcohol or substance abuse issues.

            People who abuse others SEXUALLY? Well... it’s a similar thing in some ways (an addiction issue and compulsive behavior)... but there is a ton of data and studies out there that show that rehabilitation is incredibly ineffective for these people. In short... they re-offend. Over and over.

            I can also share what it is like to be a victim of abuse, and have to encounter your abuser for years after the fact because you are both in the same broader circle. In my case... I do not think my abuser posed an ongoing risk. The abuse occured when we were BOTH minors. Though he was much older than me, and it was definitely abuse. Regardless... it has been a VERY hard thing for me to deal with psychologically for years on end. I eventually chose to distance myself from my own family, because that is what is healthiest, and least painful for me.

            So think about the victims of people who “self reported” and then were allowed to continue on as respected professionals coaching and participating in recognized competitions? The victims will inevitably share space with their abusers. Think about that. It’s not a matter of a statute of limitations, etc in my opinion... it’s a matter of which side the broader sporting community chooses to align with. Does the community choose to embrace and support victims, no matter the age or how successful they have been, and say, “You have a place here, and we care about having a good community in our sport, and maintaining a comfortable safe environment for all competitors at recognized shows”... or does the community choose to create an option to somehow keep those TOP tier competitors and coaches that most folks know have skeletons in the closet immune from bans. Because these people can “self report” what they choose to “self report.” And then in the case of the “too important to ban” people... well... any old victims out there who still want to show will just have to deal with seeing their abusers out and about at shows. Or the victims can just quit horses altogether if it’s too uncomfortable. That’s the reality for a victim in a situation like that.

            Bottom line though, self reporting of sexual abuse in order to avoid lifetime sanctions? I fear it inevitably would create a sad situation where the broader equestrian community would implicitly be sending a message that there MIGHT be circumstances in which they would continue to accept known abusers as part of the sport community. And that is problematic.

            For me... it’s philosophically and emotionally a black or white thing. You either embrace victims and create a safe community for them - both in terms of present day risks but also in terms of ongoing emotional trauma related to encountering people who abused you in the past... or you don’t. Requiring athletes to suck it up and deal silently with the emotional trauma involved in regularly encountering someone who sexually abused them as a child... just because that person is a big deal figure in a sport? I think we need to be better than that. Nobody is indispensable. No person who was molested as a child should have to continue to see their abuser out at shows for years on end coaching new kids, and laughing and smiling and carrying on like they are totally untouchable. It’s psychologically painful in ways people don’t understand unless you have endured that.

            *Sidenote... my heart goes out to Hilary. I don’t have any sort of personal connection, or have any idea about what she shared in person recently after the Oaks. But I do know that she carried something painful around quietly for years and years, and had to deal with encountering a person who harmed her as a child whenever she was out and about participating in a competitive sport she loves and has been very successful at. It’s a terrible thing for anyone to endure. Going forward... athletes should not have to experience that sort of psychologically traumatic situation. Sporting communities should be a healthy and safe environment for everyone - both physically, and emotionally. HR, and the other grown women who spoke up honestly about their experiences from years and years ago were part of an important change that will make things better for future generations of girls. It’s complicated... but I empathize deeply with the pain that comes from encountering an abuser who everyone else loves and accepts regularly... she did a brave brave thing by speaking honestly and openly recently.

            Comment


            • With regard to self-reporting, this is my line of thinking:

              Sexual misconduct, like most things, comes in shades of gray.

              A confirmed predator is different from someone who may have attended a wild party as a twenty-something and committed misconduct while impaired. Both are wrong. One is more wrong.

              SafeSport seems to have a good system in place for addressing both types of misconduct: the former receiving permanent ineligibility, the latter usually receiving no more than a minor suspension.

              But there are a few problems occurring. First, confirmed predators are (unsurprisingly) misrepresenting their crimes as the lesser type and people are believing them. In my opinion, lack of knowledge and lack of faith in SafeSport are making many people more likely to believe the guilty party than SafeSport, which is another layer to the problem. Secondly, the people who may have been involved in "lesser" misconduct, like the party situation, are still guilty, but I hear their concern that it isn't very "fair" that they end up on a list, albeit temporarily, reserved for the likes of convicted pedophiles. I'm not condoning their actions, but I am willing to accept that people make mistakes, and those types of mistakes were relatively common in a different era before people were educated about consent.

              If there was a self-reporting system in place, maybe people who are living in fear of an incident in their distant past "ruining" their future would have some avenue for reconciliation. Like if your self-report was investigated and no current threat was found, maybe you could just remain on a private administrative list for a period of time provided no new evidence or reports are presented, and avoid the whole "blasting your name as guilty" risk that seems to terrify people most.

              I fully recognize the limitations that come along with self-reporting, though. I recognize that attempts to reform are rarely successful with predators. I also recognize the potential for inadvertently offering protection to abusers. I don't have an answer for those situations.
              Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO

              Comment


              • I don’t think self reporting for this would work. If the victim doesn’t admit to it then there’s nothing or very little to go on.

                And a rapist would say say oh I was drunk at a party.

                Comment


                • Originally posted by Denali6298 View Post
                  I don’t think self reporting for this would work. If the victim doesn’t admit to it then there’s nothing or very little to go on.

                  And a rapist would say say oh I was drunk at a party.
                  Yes, I recognize that.

                  Say a rapist claims, "I was drunk at a party one time." Victim won't talk or doesn't remember. Rapist remains on administrative watch list, no suspension on matters related to the self-report. But say a second report comes in and the victim will talk. SafeSport proceeds with the temporary suspension and investigation. At this point, there's now a preponderance of evidence that this rapist was lying during the self-report, building a stronger case for banning.

                  That's my line of thinking of how such a system could work. And emphasizing, I'm just sharing my line of thinking... not trying to hold my crackpot ideas up as paradigms for what should be done.

                  The problem of victims not coming forward already exists. There are abusers out there right now who no one will report for any number of reasons.
                  Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO

                  Comment


                  • Texarkana- It is another myth that SafeSport “considers you guilty and blasts your name as a child molester” during an interim suspension.
                    On the overall list, someone with an interim suspension while the report is being investigated has the reason for the interim suspension listed as “allegation of misconduct” which is accurate. There is still a presumption of innocence.
                    We know that 1. Victims are reluctant to come forward, and 2. If there is one (legitimate) victim who has reported, there are probably others who have not reported. Thus publicly releasing the names of those with allegations against them will often precipitate other victims to report. If the information that BNT John Doe has an allegation against him is kept confidential and the evidence gathered pertaining to the single initial report is not strong enough to meet the preponderance of the evidence standard, the respondent goes free, even if there are 8 other victims out there (who have not reported and for whom the evidence might be stronger).
                    The Facebook crowd keeps saying that publishing the name during an interim suspension is a horrible burden for the innocent but accused. In fact it is a horrible burden for the guilty and accused, as it will encourage additional victims to come forward and reduces their chances of beating the rap. For the innocent and accused, it is frightening, embarrassing, and stressful, true, but I think that that is a necessary cost to pay to find the guilty.

                    Comment


                    • Texarkana I get it I just can’t see it working in a practical manner. Personally I don’t feel bad for people who put themselves in precarious situations and get called out on it. It’s not hard to remain professional.

                      I’m amazed that a group of people who believe perception is reality when it comes to the show ring, doesn’t apply the same principles to life.

                      I checked back on Hillary’s post and Duncan MacIntosh is blaming Bonnie Conway for the heat directed at Nevin. Yeah that is not why she gets heat but okay.

                      Comment


                      • Texarkana - I hear you. I think your suggestion came from a great place, and is worth considering for the circumstances you outline... but there definitely is a dynamic going on right now, in terms of abusers and their defenders trying to minimize allegations against them, and represent these situations as stuff from “another era” when there was “a lot of partying” etc.

                        It’s frustrating to witness from the outside. And it seems like lawyers, and some big time figures in our sport who have been closely associated with KNOWN pedophiles (Jimmy Williams in particular) are really whipping up folks and concerning the “need” for reform...

                        The numbers indicate to me that SafeSport is overwhelmed, and it’s unlikely anyone associated with relatively minor offenses from many years ago has anything to fear. Whatever happened with Tommy Serio, and a temporary ban that was unfounded and later lifted sounds really unpleasant and unfortunate and lure it was an awful experience for them... but it doesn’t sound like this is a widespread experience and that other people are getting banned left and right over false allegations and drug through the mud. Maybe I am wrong... but that’s what I am seeing.

                        The AK story, as well as the recent situation with HR coming forward have really resonated with me personally. They both are amazing athletes and have made meaningful contributions to the sport for decades. They also were both abused as children, and had to deal with ongoing exposure to their abuser for decades as they continued to participate in a sport they were passionate about. When both came forward, I immediately wondered how many times they struggled with the fact that in order to avoid contact with their abuser, they would have to give up the sport they loved. I can’t imagine... Both women obviously coped with their private pain, and continued riding and competing and were incredibly successful - and I respect the heck out of that. And both women have taken steps to ensure the next generation has a different and better experience. I respect the heck out of that too.

                        But it makes me sad to think about the ongoing pain they both endured privately for years and years on end. Most especially, during the 1980’s and 90’s when their careers were on an upward trajectory as younger athletes. I wish people had more empathy for that... and were less empathetic and focused on all the “scared” folks out there who were possibly guilty of minor transgressions. So I approached the idea of self reporting situations from that context... I just think we should prioritize getting the people guilty of sexual abuse of minors or people who use a power differential to sexually exploit subordinates and working student GONE from sport. Both because of the possibility of future harm, but also because of empathy for the experience and ongoing pain that so many victims have endured as they re-encountered their abusers out and about at competitions... and realize that person is just going to “get away with it” and that is something they will have to emotionally cope with over and over again if they want to continue competing.

                        I totally understand you don’t want that scenario to be the case. But sexual predators are conniving opportunists... and could and would exploit a “self reporting” system. And the inevitable reality for any victims still active in the sport would be unfortunate.

                        It’s a really tough thing to confront. But I respect where you are coming from and that you bring thoughtful balance to the discussion. We all need to try to be balanced and fair. There are no perfect or easy solutions... unfortunately.

                        Comment


                        • Does anyone really think that any of these dirtbags will self-report anything?? If they have spent their entire lives and careers doing bad things and lying to cover it up, how likely are they to come forward now?

                          I am picturing the person on the other end of the self-reporting hotline looking a lot like the Maytag repair man in the old commercials, sitting around endlessly, just waiting for the phone to ring.

                          Comment


                          • Denali6298 - I saw Duncan’s comment on Hilary’s post too.

                            I’ll leave the two Bonnie’s out of it, and just say that I thought Duncan’s attempt to publicly support HR was a good thing. RG’s death clearly devastated him, but it seems like he has tried to treat HR personally in a respectful and supportive manner since she came forward publicly. Good for Duncan.

                            Sheri Moser also commented on that post in support of HR, and in opposition to Bonnie Conway’s bullying. Sheri’s comment was thoughtful and on point. Good for her. She knows her husband is grieving the loss of his friend, but she spoke up in a decent, very fair way, very thoughtfully regarding RGs suicide, and supported HR.

                            If we call out the horrible stuff being posted on Facebook on this thread... I think it’s important to call out the good stuff. I think Sheri’s recent comment on HRs public post was sensitive, supportive, and incredibly thoughtful.

                            Comment


                            • Virginia Horse Mom I totally agree with you, however Duncan did a 180 when it was known who spoke up. Another friend. Also his post answering the question of “what if it was you’re daughter” totally misses the mark and shows a deep misunderstanding about how things happen.

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by Denali6298 View Post
                                Virginia Horse Mom I totally agree with you, however Duncan did a 180 when it was known who spoke up. Another friend. Also his post answering the question of “what if it was you’re daughter” totally misses the mark and shows a deep misunderstanding about how things happen.
                                You are completely on point, and I am in agreement.

                                It’s been interesting to watch it publicly... I am at least pleased he chose to support HR recently. I wish for his own sake he had paused earlier on... but he’s a human and the whole process of wrapping one’s head around having a close friend be someone who is guilty of sexually exploiting and harming children is a brutal thing. I know you know this though.

                                It’s a shame Duncan didn’t take a page from his wife’s book earlier on in all of this. And his continued comments about how victims need to take back control from their abusers, etc, bug me intensely. How victims of child abuse or sexual abuse manage to find a path forward is pretty personal. There is no universal answer. Sheri’s words were wise and on point - especially with respect to mental illness and RG being unable to live with his own secrets. Sad... but true. Duncan would do well to listen to her more, and to follow her lead.

                                Comment


                                • Originally posted by FiSk123 View Post
                                  ..................
                                  Furthermore, the U.S. Center for SafeSport was created because the USOPC and individual NGBs were mishandling (and, at times, actively covering up) incidents of abuse. The goal is not only to make a better tomorrow, but to try and right the wrongs of yesterday. While I wholeheartedly believe that SafeSport is in need of some major improvements, I am deeply saddened by the vast number of people who want to either ignore the dark past of the sport or, even worse, return to that past by solely relying on the authorities to police predatory behavior.
                                  This is a profoundly important point for the ongoing social media discussion of leaving the past in the past vs raking it all up after 20 or 30 years and assigning accountability now.

                                  The equestrian sport public needs to have a better understanding and grasp that yes, addressing past wrongs *is* in the SafeSport agenda. Even if the accused has no reports from recent years.

                                  I don't think everyone is clear on that. I think there are people who are more comfortable with digging up old cases if they think SS can also prove that the accused is still at it, still a risk in the sport.

                                  But it sounds as if past transgressions are enough for SS to take action. It doesn't matter if there are recent reports or not. There doesn't have to be firm evidence of an ongoing risk.

                                  While it is well documented that predators are unlikely to stop, I doubt that is a consideration for SS's investigations. SS doesn't have the burden of proving that for each individual they investigate.

                                  If I understand this aspect of the SS mission correctly.

                                  Comment


                                  • I have a feeling that it is less likely that more recent victims sexual misconduct toward minors will go public as did HR, because so many will still be juniors or recently out of juniors. It wouldn't be a surprise if the recent victims are concerned that the backlash could have an effect on their lives for years to come.

                                    While it is never easy to go public, and backlash is a risk for all victims who do, there comes a point in life where the damage is more easily contained. I salute HR and the other victims for taking the stand that they did, on behalf of all of the victims.

                                    Comment


                                    • Originally posted by OverandOnward View Post
                                      While it is never easy to go public, and backlash is a risk for all victims who do, there comes a point in life where the damage is more easily contained. I salute HR and the other victims for taking the stand that they did, on behalf of all of the victims.
                                      I concur.

                                      They were brave enough to take the hits as adults so that hopefully there will be fewer children facing this issue in the future. Both from offenders who have been doing it for years, and others who may realize that the times, they are a-changing.

                                      Comment


                                      • Originally posted by Denali6298 View Post
                                        [USER="106643"]

                                        I checked back on Hillary’s post and Duncan MacIntosh is blaming Bonnie Conway for the heat directed at Nevin. Yeah that is not why she gets heat but okay.
                                        He's desperate for any straw that keeps Gage from being known as a child molester.
                                        *****
                                        You will not rise to the occasion, you will default to your level of training.

                                        Comment


                                        • Originally posted by OverandOnward View Post
                                          I have a feeling that it is less likely that more recent victims sexual misconduct toward minors will go public as did HR, because so many will still be juniors or recently out of juniors. It wouldn't be a surprise if the recent victims are concerned that the backlash could have an effect on their lives for years to come.

                                          While it is never easy to go public, and backlash is a risk for all victims who do, there comes a point in life where the damage is more easily contained. I salute HR and the other victims for taking the stand that they did, on behalf of all of the victims.
                                          SafeSport is a new entity with a new process for handling reports of abuse and as such needs to establish a track record of identifying and sanctioning the guilty and refraining from putting too much burden on the few who may be falsely accused.

                                          Bonnie Navin and the FB group were reasonably successful in (unfairly) calling the credibility of SafeSport into doubt. SafeSport could not do much “to defend itself” as the confidentiality provision prevented from saying “Look, people, there were at least x victims, and of those, their ages were m,n,o,p, and further more the respondent did not dispute any of this.”

                                          HR and the others had to speak up to establish the credibility of SafeSport and the legitimacy of the sanction. I would think that it is pretty clear to most people at this point that SafeSport did what it had to do in RG’s case. HR and the others gave SafeSport considerable credibility and legitimacy.

                                          If, going forward, SafeSport can continue to build credibility, it won’t be necessary for other reporters to publicly out themselves.

                                          One of the reasons I have such a low opinion of what Bonnie Navin did is that she was fanning the flames of misinformation and misleading information, knowing that due to the confidentiality provision, SafeSport had to bite its metaphorical tongue and let all the misinformation stand. She must have been shocked when HR called her bluff and said what SafeSport was not allowed to say.

                                          Comment

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