50-Year-Old Accusations Lead to a Lifetime Ban

George Morris, 81, was a legend in equestrian sport
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2019 1:54 PM CST
Equestrian King Gets His 'Final' Verdict
In this July 21, 1960, file photo, United States equestrian team member George Morris is shown after the US team won the Prince of Wales cup at the Royal International Horse Show at White City Stadium in London.   (AP Photo/Laurence Harris, File)

A giant of equestrian sport has been banned for life over sexual-misconduct allegations dating back some 50 years, the New York Times reports. The expulsion of George Morris, 81, was announced Tuesday. "No matter how big a figure is in their sport, or how old the allegations, nobody is above accountability," says Ju'Riese Colón, head of the Center for SafeSport, which investigates misconduct in Olympic sports. Morris was indeed "big," having won a silver show-jumping medal in the 1960 Summer Olympics and coached Olympic teams for the US and Brazil. His ban hinged on testimony by at least two people who said Morris had victimized them as minors when he was a coach, mostly in the 1960s and 1970s.

Controversy swirled around the ruling in part because probe details were kept secret to protect Morris' accusers, per the Times. An "I Stand With George" hashtag and Facebook page were supported by some of the sport's most famous figures, and one accuser who went public, Jonathan Soresi, is himself a registered sex offender who pleaded guilty in 2007 to owning child pornography. But after heated testimony by Morris' supporters and accusers, the Center for SafeSport upheld a provisional ban passed in August. It cannot be appealed. His case is one of several sex-abuse revelations to rock the sport in recent years, including accusations against coach Robert Gage and show-jumping trainer Jimmy Williams. (More sexual abuse stories.)

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