World champion show jumper Rich Fellers was arrested, June 7, on four counts of second-degree sexual abuse by the Tualatin Police Department. The felony criminal charges mark an escalation from Fellers’ temporary suspension by the U.S. Center for SafeSport in February for “allegations of misconduct.”
The Tualatin (Oregon) Police Department said the investigation lasted several months and involved witnesses in multiple states. The alleged crimes, involving a 17-year-old, took place at the victim’s apartment in Portland, police said.
Second-degree sexual abuse is considered a class C felony in the state of Oregon. Fellers’ arrest comes after he was indicted by a grand jury.
“The case shifted from the Center (for SafeSport) and was presented for a Grand Jury to review due to a mounting body of evidence which demonstrated serious predatory behavior and sexual abuse of long-term equestrian rider, Maggie Kehring,” her attorneys, Russell Prince and Michael Palma, said in a press release.
Kehring, an 18-year-old former student of Fellers, came forward publicly after Fellers, 61, was set down by the U.S. Center For SafeSport earlier this year.
“Though there are things that happened to me that I can never get back, I am relieved and grateful to see that my truth, The Truth, was heard, understood and believed,” she said in the statement released by her attorneys.
“The power in me has been restored by protecting others and ensuring that no one else will be scarred by this same experience. I am so thankful for the work the Tualatin Police Department and FBI have done on my behalf and on the behalf of others in similar situations.”
Kehring’s attorneys asked for her privacy to be respected in the wake of Fellers’ arrest.
“We are grateful that Maggie Kehring’s unimaginable experience has been brought to light with these charges being filed, but the investigation will continue. Hopefully, Maggie can get back to the one thing she loves most— riding horses. In the meantime, Maggie will have no further comment and we would ask that her and her family’s privacy during this difficult time be respected,” the statement said.
The U.S. Equestrian Federation issued the following statement regarding Rich’s arrest.
“USEF strongly believes that sex abuse has no place in sport. Protecting athletes from all forms of abuse should be the collective concern of our community. USEF urges all participants to respect the privacy of the victim and her family at this time. Please be reminded that sexual abuse involving athletes under 18 must be reported to the U.S. Center for SafeSport and the authorities. Let’s stand together by supporting victims and survivors of abuse in our sport.”
Fellers won the 2012 Rolex/FEI World Cup Final (the Netherlands) aboard Flexible and went on to represent the United States at the London Olympic Games that year. Before his suspension by the U.S. Center for SafeSport, Fellers and his wife Shelley Fellers ran Rich Fellers LLC out of Timberline Meadows in Oregon City.
In late April, Shelley was suspended by the US. Center for Safe Sport for four years for “abuse of process, retaliation, failure to report.” Shelley is appealing the ruling.
A phone call to Rich’s lawyer, Howard Jacobs, requesting comment was not returned by press time.
Source The Chronicle of the Horse
Photo by Hippo Foto