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George Morris on the SS list

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  • Originally posted by Virginia Horse Mom View Post

    So George Mason University and their athletic department was notified of his criminal record involving sexual abuse of a minor... and they chose to have him instruct a class and briefly affiliated their team with his farm ANYWAY?!?!

    That’s stunning. And stupid. Obviously Michigan State University paid a HEFTY legal price in terms of civil penalties after their absurd handling of Larry Nasser.

    But Larry Nassar was a widely respected team doctor. Tom Navarro is incredibly lacking in terms of qualification to teach any class, much less coach a college program. And he plead guilty to 3rd degree sodomy involving a 14 year old. What in the WORLD was GMU thinking?
    AFAIK, the timeline of his association with the university began around the time he started Riverchase and ended around the time of the Penn State scandal, but the team has continued to use Riverchase at various times over the years, in addition to the team's competition meets being held there. At this point, there isn't a wide selection of facilities to use around here, so it's a matter of whatever works out, and that place is always going to be in the top five available choices until something better comes along in close proximity to the university.
    Thus do we growl that our big toes have, at this moment, been thrown up from below!

    Comment


    • Originally posted by LexInVA View Post

      AFAIK, the timeline of his association with the university began around the time he started Riverchase and ended around the time of the Penn State scandal, but the team has continued to use Riverchase at various times over the years, in addition to the team's competition meets being held there. At this point, there isn't a wide selection of facilities to use around here, so it's a matter of whatever works out, and that place is always going to be in the top five choices until something better comes along.
      What criteria limits the selection of facilities for the team? Convenience plus price? Availability of lesson type horses for IHSA use? It seems to me like there are MANY other options... but I guess just further out? And maybe not so very many with enough in the way of available lesson type horses for the program?

      If I am understanding the timing of what you are saying... they actually were affiliated with him when he was still on the sex offender list in both VA and NY?

      I just can’t quite wrap my head around that...

      Comment


      • Originally posted by Virginia Horse Mom View Post

        What criteria limits the selection of facilities for the team? Convenience plus price? Availability of lesson type horses for IHSA use? It seems to me like there are MANY other options... but I guess just further out? And maybe not so very many with enough in the way of available lesson type horses for the program?

        If I am understanding the timing of what you are saying... they actually were affiliated with him when he was still on the sex offender list in both VA and NY?

        I just can’t quite wrap my head around that...
        You'd have to talk to the person running the program and ask them what their exact needs and criteria are. I think it really just comes down to "whatever is available with all the necessary on-site amenities, within a certain distance, and within the budget". The seeds for it all were planted during my last days at GMU, so I can't tell you anything about any of it from my first-hand knowledge, just what I know from what little is out there about the program and it's patchwork, undocumented history. From what's out there, the team has bounced from farm to farm, numerous times, but has more or less always gone back to Riverchase for competitions or a base.

        Yes, you would be correct in your interpretation of my statement, based on what little information seems to be out there in the information tubes, but as I said, that direct association was apparently not continued past the Penn State scandal, except at the discretion of whomever was calling the shots. The team was based out of Riverchase as recently as 2017, according to Horsetalk Magazine.
        Thus do we growl that our big toes have, at this moment, been thrown up from below!

        Comment


        • Originally posted by Virginia Horse Mom View Post

          What criteria limits the selection of facilities for the team? Convenience plus price? Availability of lesson type horses for IHSA use? It seems to me like there are MANY other options... but I guess just further out? And maybe not so very many with enough in the way of available lesson type horses for the program?

          If I am understanding the timing of what you are saying... they actually were affiliated with him when he was still on the sex offender list in both VA and NY?

          I just can’t quite wrap my head around that...
          Most colleges, ISHA is a club sport and often student organized/student run. I went to a fancy riding college where the school provided an entire equestrian center on site, but that is definitely not the norm. I also did some coursework at a large state university in the heart of horse country. I was involved in their ISHA team, too, which faded in and out of existence depending on student interest. The school did literally nothing except give us the okay to form the club. We found the barn with someone willing to coach, we paid for lessons, we got ourselves to shows, etc. Despite having access to some of the best trainers in the country, we rode at a local low level dressage barn with a sketchier reputation (in terms of quality) because it was the only place that could accommodate us.

          The situation is similar for the ISHA team at the local college where I live now. It is student-run and bounces around the different local barns with school horses depending on who knows who. I think every local trainer has been their coach for some period of time.

          GMU may have nothing to do with the operations of the club and may not even grasp the complaint.

          As for him working as an adjunct/instructor, they also may not have a policy against past charges given that it is at the university level where you are instructing adults. I can't really speak to that. But in a past life, I was involved with hiring adjuncts every semester for a community college and we were usually thrilled if we could find a warm body with the credentials required by our accreditors! Bonus if they actually turned out to be good at their job! If they weren't, we moved on to the next warm body. I recall some sort of background check, but I don't remember ever not hiring for a temporary position because of a bad background check...
          Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO

          Comment


          • Originally posted by stargzng386 View Post

            They actually paid 30 days plus didn’t get the deposit back so essentially were forced to gave 60 days pay after they gave notice. I know how a normal security deposit works but he was pissed because a number of people left at once.
            Not the first time he's had a mass exodus of boarders, either. They put up with his crap for awhile, then finally get fed up and go.

            I know there were boarders that found their entire month's worth of Smartpaks in the dumpster, not fed and not even opened.

            He would bill the boarders for the barn farrier each month but never actually pay the farrier. He went through a bunch of them until he couldn't get a decent one to show up.

            He is also notorious for charging for worming each month, but the horses never actually get wormed. He just pockets the money. I bought a horse from one of his boarders. That horse had the highest worm load my vet had ever seen and the previous owner swore that he was wormed every month because she paid for it. He preys on the ignorance of owners.

            Also not the first time he's stiffed boarders on their security deposit, either. He spends the money as soon as it's in his hot greasy hands.

            Comment


            • Originally posted by AllisonWunderlund View Post

              IEA Region President here. This is correct. While the IEA cannot control what people advertise on their personal websites, it can control who can and cannot field a team. If a team is not approved by IEA, they will be unable to enter any IEA competitions. There are safeguards against that. Show hosts have to submit entries into the IEA website. A team that is not registered is unable to be entered. The system will not be able to find them.

              I do encourage anyone who suspects that a banned/suspended USEF member is running an IEA program using another person as the "official" coach to circumvent the SS requirement to report it to the IEA national office. I can assure you these reports will not be taken lightly.
              Thank you for that information. It's good to know that IEA is up on the situation, and will disallow the participation of Safe Sport banned/suspended persons.

              I am unfortunately, but not surprisingly, ignorant about the workings of the IEA.

              If the IEA has a news letter or handbook, or other communication that you disseminate to students and parents, I hope the inclusion of Safe Sport guidelines, or (at the least) the inclusion of the link to
              (or a copy of ) the USEF banned/suspended list is included in the IEA literature.

              Comment


              • Originally posted by oneequestrienne View Post

                Yup. Great article. Telling comments
                My favorite comment, of the ones I read, was something to the effect that some of the comments should make people realize why Safe Sport is necessary.

                Link to article - https://www.chronofhorse.com/article...om-the-in-gate
                The Evil Chem Prof

                Comment


                • I love the "we should move forward and not use it for acts in the past" comment. So, if you abused someone last year, last decade, that's ok, as long as you don't get caught again? WTF?

                  Comment


                  • That's the thing I continue to hear from people. I was at a meeting today where someone said that something had happened to her at a barn when she was a child, but it hadn't ruined her life and after all, she didn't think we should go back to the past like that and why didn't people just report to the police at the time.

                    I was amazed at how little empathy she seemed to have: "It didn't wreck my life, so why can't everybody just get over it" was kind of what she was saying. And then of course, several people chimed in with the usual bit about how awful it was to go back to a single incident 50 years ago for George. Sigh.

                    Comment


                    • I’ve read comments from parents from other SS covered sports. Swimming, hockey & gymnastics, & they said there wasn’t the uproar that the equestrian community has had.
                      I’m guessing that money plays a huge role in this. After all losing a barn load of expensive horses, commissions , trailing, show fees, lesson fees has much more of an impact then what a swim coach has to lose.

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by dannyboy View Post
                        That's the thing I continue to hear from people. I was at a meeting today where someone said that something had happened to her at a barn when she was a child, but it hadn't ruined her life and after all, she didn't think we should go back to the past like that and why didn't people just report to the police at the time.

                        I was amazed at how little empathy she seemed to have: "It didn't wreck my life, so why can't everybody just get over it" was kind of what she was saying. And then of course, several people chimed in with the usual bit about how awful it was to go back to a single incident 50 years ago for George. Sigh.
                        Stockholm syndrome? Extinction burst? It really is remarkable. I am glad to see a number of reasonable posts on the new COTH piece even if there are a few still banging the drum.

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by Alterforme View Post
                          I’ve read comments from parents from other SS covered sports. Swimming, hockey & gymnastics, & they said there wasn’t the uproar that the equestrian community has had.
                          I’m guessing that money plays a huge role in this. After all losing a barn load of expensive horses, commissions , trailing, show fees, lesson fees has much more of an impact then what a swim coach has to lose.
                          Yes. Another issue has to be the accessibility of GM through his books, videos, and his clinics. I guess anyone can take a clinic with him and start basking in the glow and drinking the Kool aid? That's got to be different from access to swim coaches and gymnastic coaches? They think they know GM after one clinic...and he would never...and anyways they are tough, unlike kids today... I'm so over it.

                          Comment


                          • I was 13-14 years old. You know, back when you're immortal and no one can hurt you and your parents are terrible when they restrict your freedoms.

                            My older sister and I would sneak out of the house through the attic roof skylights - our house was armed to the teeth with systems and detectors and what not, but we had figured out that these windows were the only ones not armed. We would open them all the way, shimmy out, go along the roof, and slide down the cemented in basketball hoop pole. From there, we would go to the street and hitch hike to parties at ~11pm, getting home before my dad woke up at 4:30am. To get back in, we would scale the 8' privacy fence, and make a jump to the roof, going back in the skylights.

                            Imagine what kind of people would pick up 2 young girls off the side of the street at night to take them to a party, in a not-so-great neighborhood. But I was immortal. Indestructible.

                            There were three of them. My sister was high in the other room. But I was immortal. Indestructible.

                            I still have nightmares, every single night. I know what's coming - the first thing I subconsciously recognize is the smell. Next is the taste. Then I can see it, feel it. I could recognize their faces even now. I fight those dreams, every single night. wake up wake up wake up wake up - I know what comes next. But at the time... I was immortal. Indestructible.

                            I didn't tell anyone, and I still haven't - with the exception of my partner, who needed to know why I wake up taking a huge gasp of air like I am drowning several times a night. At the time, I was embarrassed. After all, I was immortal, indestructible. You can't admit something bad happened when you're such a badass. I knew everything, and couldn't admit that I was fallible. Couldn't admit that my brilliant idea of hitch hiking to house parties was a piss poor one, that ultimately led to something terrible happening to me. Do I have some culpability in it, jumping in cars with strangers? Sure, but I was 13 and dumb. Every kid is 13 and dumb at some point.

                            Day to day, I function fine. I sleep like absolute garbage - the second my conscious mind relaxes, here comes the haunting. I wake up over and over, adrenaline spike. Sometimes I have to get up and walk around to get my heart rate back down. I have huge apprehension about sleeping. I do better if I can just nap a few times a day instead of actually lie down for a significant amount of time.

                            That was 17 years ago. I relive it every night, repeatedly, like it was yesterday.

                            We need Safesport. At the very least, a place to be able to report this stuff anonymously, without the potential backlash of your ID being publicized, without having to "give up" immortality.

                            Finally, to lighten the dark mood of the post - my parents, when they found out that we were sneaking out, made no attempt to catch us in the act. They greased the hell out of that basketball hoop pole though...
                            Last edited by endlessclimb; Aug. 21, 2019, 08:46 AM.

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by BITSA View Post

                              "past conduct informs current fitness" which is pretty much exactly what Fed Rule Civil Procedure 404(b) says is not admissible ("(1) Prohibited Uses. Evidence of a crime, wrong, or other act is not admissible to prove a person’s character in order to show that on a particular occasion the person acted in accordance with the character.").

                              It's like a Frankenstein of legal processes. The heart of safesport is in the right place, and we need it, but the process needs improvement.

                              I understand how SafeSport's suspension process and then something like a lifetime ban from a club treads on the toes of this Federal Rule about past crimes saying anything about current "character". And you'd like to improve SafeSport.

                              But what do you want to do about the evidence that the majority of sex offenders are repeat offenders? Unlike other crimes, and I can think of plenty of classes of crimes, these have been shown to be not "one off" events, not acts of passion or desperation. On the contrary, they are, collectively, pre-meditated. Most people, even sex offenders, know there the lines of propriety lie and those guys (male and female perps) are careful about how, with whom and in front of whom they cross those lines

                              And what would you propose SafeSport do insofar as its mission, primarily, is to protect children from sexual predators? This has been discussed elsewhere, but there is a precedent for putting people under investigation on "administrative leave" as a way to limit future damages while claims of past damage are sorted out.

                              What I think those Federal Rules are about is the kind of inference that is allowed in a trial-- a short and specific process that will be resolved with a conviction or not. What SafeSport does, on the other hand, is more like the administrative leave (those are with pay, I think) where there is no attached presumption of guilt or innocence, but rather an intention on the part of the employing institution to take responsibility for harm reduction.

                              A lifetime ban, on the other hand, comes not from no evidence or no investigation. It does not come from not liking someone's character. Rather, I believe it comes from proof of an established pattern of exploitative behavior and the "banning" should be understood not as punishment, so much as putting a stop to more children being harmed.

                              I think, then, that SafeSport becomes a "Frankenstein of a legal process" only if you compare its process and its mission to the wrong thing-- a court trial.




                              The armchair saddler
                              Politically Pro-Cat

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by AlterHalter2019 View Post

                                I can’t tell if you are saying I am contributing to victim blaming or not. If so, then my post has been misinterpreted. I don’t think you are, but just want to ensure we are on the same page. The parents who look past the record, or justify leaving their children with him, or who believe the story he gives without doing their own research. Those people are putting their children in danger and children, especially those with goals, or those with a shit home life, or those who otherwise would not be able to have the experience they are getting with horses, are especially susceptible to being groomed.

                                You do bring up a good point though. Kids look to adults, and if adults don’t speak up or indicate that they are uncomfortable or don’t trust someone, kids will second guess their own feelings or intuition. I was talking about this thread and the SS stuff with someone and they asked me yesterday - “if someone came to you and asked what you thought of this individual or this situation, would you honestly speak up?” Truth be told, it depends. If I were a boarder on that farm and some family came looking for boarding and lessons for their kid, but I suspected me speaking up would jeopardize the care of my horse or would cause the individual to make my life hell as a boarder, I don’t know if I could be honest. If I were an ex-boarder who was safely out of that toxic situation, then absolutely I would speak up. But of course, by then you are deemed the “disgruntled ex-boarder” and are not believed anymore. It makes me a coward. But I also know that I have been in similar situations and I need to take care of myself first before I can do that for others, which for me means skirting around the truth (“the care is good but I would do your own research on the trainers as I have never taken lessons with them myself so am not the best source of information”) until I was safely out.

                                I was that kid that grew up with a cold and unemotional family, who became a live-in working student as a teenager and liked that I had a sense of family now. I liked that I was being allowed to work towards my goals, and the family thought I was amazing, and they treated me well. Thankfully the family didn’t abuse me but a boarder also treated me kindly, claimed to see my potential, wanted to help me reach my goals, etc etc. The fact that I was receiving positive attention and love felt amazing. So when the boarder then began grooming me, I didn’t even see it. He was smart. He set me up and when I turned 18 he took advantage (because it’s not illegal at that point, even though this was a product of three years of planning and effort on his part). When I got the guts to tell my parents, they acted like they didn’t believe me. Surely I misunderstood this person who had been so good to me growing up. That man then continued that pattern with others, as I would later find out, but thankfully I spoke up years later just before he happened to hit on my former BOs teenage daughter.

                                I have lived through rape and sexual abuse as a young adult. I have seen red flags but also saw other older adults claim to love this person and talk about how great they are for the organization, and how people look up to them. So I thought surely I gave mixed signals or misunderstood what happened. Surely it was my fault. He raped me and then assaulted me several times in the work place, and then got one last chance from me (because I was led to believe that I must have done something, in my Nike shorts and t-shirt, to suggest I was asking for sex even though I fought him verbally and physically, so again, he couldn’t be that bad, it was my fault) to sexually assault me. After that I opened my eyes. And after that I began hearing stories of other young women who experienced similar trauma and it was swept under the rug. I was the ONLY one who chose to report this in a format that would lead to investigation and trial, because the other victims believed they would have their career ruined or they were at fault. During trial I dealt with over 12 hours of testifying and being beaten down by high dollar defense attorneys who insisted that I was old enough to know better, that I didn’t see the red flags at first so I must have wanted it, that I set him up, that I asked for it (what? In my Nike shorts and t-shirt? You mean verbally and physically fighting him off to the point of being bruised wasn’t enough of a sign that I didn’t want it?). They had witness after witness talk about what a shining example of a person this guy was. He was the office morale booster who cared about everyone. He would never rape someone. Or groom them to believe it was all a misunderstanding and then re-assault them later. And the guy was found not guilty. Despite me having text messages where he apologizes (they were inadmissible, I later found out, because they could not reasonably separate those messages from unrelated messages and therefore the judge would not allow them presented by the prosecution, but they certainly were cherry picked and used by the defense (*gasp*! I said good night to him! I must have wanted to sleep with him!) Despite photos of bruising on my arms. Despite everything I let out on the stand while being beaten down to feel like nothing.


                                This is really long, sorry. It doesn’t even really apply fully, but it felt good to get that release of telling my own story. Long story short, I understand how easily a teenager or young adult can be groomed, especially if parents or other adults/respected individuals look the other way. I also know the severe psychological damage that it causes and deal with that every day. It’s easy for us to say “yes we would speak up if we knew the families putting their kids at risk... but in person it is a lot more challenging unfortunately. It shouldn’t be, but it is, and that’s sad. I’m guilty of not saying anything myself in those situations.
                                We are on the same page. And we have shockingly similar experiences as teenagers!

                                That's how I came to understand just how many adults it took "looking the other way" or finding a way to believe that this wasn't actually happening or, if it were, it was not within their scope to do anything about it (including warning other people? I don't get that part.) And for victims, it's really not obvious to whom one can turn in this social environment where more adults are invested in denial or ignorance than in looking out for children.

                                That's why I thought it was good that SafeSport become a place that one would go with a problem, should he or she find himself/herself in a bit of a "moral desert" among local adults. And it's the reason I was happy to see that more adults who had not considered the signs of sexual predation before learn about those. Even if parents or boarders fearful about their horses' care have too much invested in a situation to help a kid, there ought to be some adult nearby who has less to lose and who, perhaps thanks to SafeSport or perhaps thanks to candid discussions like this one, knows how to keep their eyes peeled and will take some steps toward protecting the kid.

                                For my part, and living in that "moral desert," it was clear to me that my choices were to put up with what was going on and to try to find ways to avoid the perpy guys local to me or to not ride. So any time I see a family of limited means keeping their kid in a Working Student situation, or continuing to take their daughter to a guru like Larry Nasser, I get it. They are trying to find a way to cut the Gordian Knot rather than be so blunt as to say "I can get a great opportunity for my kid, one that I cannot provide any other way, but in exchange, I'll have to consent to having her or him sexually exploited."

                                Last edited by mvp; Aug. 21, 2019, 08:42 AM.
                                The armchair saddler
                                Politically Pro-Cat

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                                • Originally posted by Tiramit View Post

                                  The problem isn't limited to sexual predators. Years ago I rode in an area that was "headlined" by a big barn. The woman trainer was reckless, ambitious, and cut huge corners on training to the point of being dangerous. She inflated horse prices, cheated on deals, used up horses, pushed students and horses beyond their skill and comfort level, and burned out a good % of her riders.

                                  A lot of people got hurt in her training program. While I was in the area, 3 of her junior riders ended up int the hospital with life threatening injuries after riding accidents. When they left the hospital, doctors told 2 of them they could never ride again or do many other life activities due to the injuries (something to do with motion) and the 3rd was too scared to ride. These were riders who had been talented up and comers under another trainer who had moved away. I lost count on the broken arm type stuff. I struggled with how to report her as she wasn't directly abusing them. They fell off or with their horses in training or competitions. It was chalked up as a dangerous sport.

                                  The above didn't matter a bit to her business. She had a thriving lesson program with new families and a steady stream of people buying fresh horses to replace the broken ones for years.

                                  Sadly she is far from unique within the horse world. The question is, how can abusers be stopped?
                                  Regulate the industry. This seems like a plain case of "malpractice" on the part of the instructor.
                                  The armchair saddler
                                  Politically Pro-Cat

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                                  • Originally posted by atl_hunter View Post

                                    The point of the deposit is that when you give the 30 days notice you don't pay that last board bill as your deposit covers it, so of course you never get the deposit back. Did the boarders not realize that is how it works? My horse just died and I had to eat 30 days of board. Sucks but that's how it works. I couldn't really give 30 days notice in advance of his death, and a boarding contract is a binding contract.

                                    Not true. I'm a landlord. A "security deposit" is held in order to pay for damages or repairs. It is not "security" against your tenant walking out with unpaid rent. "Last month's rent" is the money to be used as you describe.

                                    And the law is very, very clear on the fact that landlord's can't substitute one kind of money for the other. (Of course, the law is also clear on what a landlord has to do in order to keep the security deposit and when and how it has to be returned.)

                                    The point is that the lease is supposed to handle the problem of a renter leaving early; the security deposit is supposed to handle the problem of damages.

                                    So, yeah, those borders probably did read and follow their binding contract. Chances are, the BO did not.
                                    The armchair saddler
                                    Politically Pro-Cat

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                                    • I've had that experience before where the security deposit wasn't returned. I imagine it's actually fairly common in the boarding business. Most lower-level places probably don't keep an escrow account, the money gets spent as it comes in, so there's no funds readily available to pay back the deposit. Besides, there's always some miscellaneous charges for bandaging, or medicating horses, or some such that can be used to justify keeping it. Unless the board is very expensive, it's not worth trying to go to court to reclaim it, your horse is now somewhere else, and I think most people just let it go, which barn owners are well aware of.

                                      Actually, it happens elsewhere also. I sublet an apartment once, left an unopened bottle of water in the fridge when I moved out, came back the next day for it, and the owners refused to return my deposit because they said I hadn't cleaned the apartment. Their attitude was "so sue us". They were a couple of lawyers, so fat chance.

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                                      • I find the double standards of some people so appalling. Many of the same people who are shouting "I stand with George" and screaming about due process and yelling it was 50 years ago...could have cared less about due process or evidence when it came to Brett Kavanaugh - the same people I see on Facebook and Twitter were yelling "we believe her" and "I stand with victims" Is this the society we have become?
                                        "All life is precious"
                                        Sophie Scholl

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                                        • Did Paul V ever get actual criminal Charges or jail time for the horse killings & insurance fraud? Or did he just get a life ban from usef? Just curious, if he only received the usef ban, isn’t that kinda how SS works? I’m just trying to find a different example for the people that don’t understand SS.

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