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☛ Sex offenders and background checks 1-19-18

SEX OFFENDERS AND BACKGROUND CHECKS

 

DO YOU KNOW ALL THERE IS TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR ASSOCIATION’S OFFICERS OR HALL OF FAME MEMBERS?

By Glory Ann Kurtz
Jan. 19, 2018

Now is the time when horse organizations accept suggestions from their membership so they can honor some of their members to be in their respective Halls of Fame. Usually suggestions are made by members, with transcripts that include their great accomplishments in their particular industry. But do they really know all the information about the person they are suggesting be given the honors?

That’s kind of how our members of Congress are chosen and we know how that turned out. Or maybe it’s about the businessmen or women or film stars who have been highly successful, in great demand and are very wealthy. A group gets together and decides which of them should be honored … whether it be in film, music or business.  Or maybe it’s the news media who decides which businessmen have accomplishments worthy of some recognition. We also know how that all turned out.

That leads to the big question: “What DON’T we know about these individuals?” That’s been a lesson learned the hard way recently when several members of the U.S. Congress, as well as the top echelon of ownership and management of U.S. companies, who had to step down when they were accused of sexual harassment and assault. A majority of them didn’t even deny the allegations; they simply resigned to “being unmasked” as their female victims had finally came forward, saying  the sexual harassment had been going on for years. That includes the doctor at the Olympics who recently  had to face  his victims in court, with the parent of one of them revealing how her daughter had committed suicide after the sexual assault.

Sexual harassment and assault has also been going on in the horse industry for years – but in a much smaller scale than in the business or movie world as there are not many media outlets trying to seek out the perpetrators and unmask them to the industry. It’s easier to prove horse abuse than it is women or child abuse as usually there isn’t a lot of physical or court evidence available. It’s simply a woman’s or child’s word against the perpetrator’s and usually they are too ashamed or scared to report it in the first place. Personally, I know of instances where young girls have been abused for years and were too frightened of the perpetrator to report it.

However, the web site “RateMyHorsePro.com,” recently unmasked a National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) long-time member who is a trainer, clinician and a member of their Hall of Fame, who has a conviction for “rape by force or threat.” The site published a state of California rap sheet of him, including a photo and his offenses that took place in 1963. The website, that also does background checks on individuals, stated that the information “was obtained through the public domain and in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act.”

As a result, Les Vogt, 75, of Paso Robles, Calif., was exposed as a convicted felon through California’s Offense Code 261.3 Rape of Drugged Victim in 2002.

Click for Megan’s Law sex offender law in California>>

Recently California passed SB384, which is a new bill regarding sex offenders. However Vogt is still under the rules of the old bill as his offense was in 1963.

SB 384: California’s new 3-tiered sex offender registration system>>

According to his website, Vogt is “one of the horse world’s premier trainers, teachers and innovators, having won 15 World Champion Reining and Working Cow Horse titles, as well as countless other championships. He has been a member of the NRCHA Hall of Fame since 2004! Two years following his conviction for being a sex offender.

Les Vogt | NRCHA Hall of fame

Vogt’s website states, “As a teacher and clinician, Les lectures extensively in the United States, South America and Western Europe. His clinics welcome both professional and  non-pro students and every clinic is tailored for the participants.”

Vogt’s site emphasizes that his clinics focus on various aspects of the Western performance spectrum with special sessions available for reining, showmanship, working cow horse and young horses/young riders.  Vogt has 13 clinics planned for 2018 due to his success in the National Reined Cow Horse Association.

Vogt was also included in the film “Down The Fence,” regarding the reined cow horse that is promoted by the NRCHA and is now available on Netflix or can be purchased on Amazon.

WHAT CAN BE DONE PRIOR TO AN ASSOCIATION MEMBER’S NEW POSITION?

While there’s not much an association’s Board of Directors can do to make sure all their fellow members are not sex offenders, it is possible to assure that the members of the board and/or individuals who are honored or voted in as officers or Hall of Fame members and who are role models for their members – especially the youth – are not sex offenders or have any felony  convictions on their record. A conviction of being a sex offender is a felony. As of yesterday, I checked with Megan’s List in California and Vogt is definitely still on the list and is, therefore, a sex offender and a felon.

Click for Sex Offender Registry FBI>>

An association’s Board can make it mandatory that anyone running for an office or the board of directors or are nominated for a Hall of Famhttps://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/sex-offender-registrye or another honorary position at a equine association, have a “background check” before they are moved into that position. If you don’t control who your officers and Hall of Fame members are, and you know that they have a felony on their rap sheet, the Association could be liable for the actions of these honorary members of that association as the honors given to them by the association usually signifies they are trustworthy as clinicians.

However, Jay Winborn, the Executive Director of the NRCHA  was given a copy of this article prior to it being published, and after consulting with the Board of Directors of the NRCHA, he made the following statement: “NRCHA is an equine association that promotes and produces reined cow horse events and does not comment on situations involving the personal lives of our members.” He also asked that several statements be eliminated that he had previously made.

It is interesting to note that to be an AQHA Professional Horseman in the Trainers Directory, the individuals have to go through a background check.

Also, the NRCHA, along with several other horse organizations, including the NCHA and APHA receive city, state and federal money for their events held at the Will Rogers Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas. There is a possibility if there were a lawsuit filed by a victim of a sexual assault at one of these events, that the facility, city, state or federal government could also be included in the lawsuit. That could be the tipping point to get a background check on the board and officers of each of those associations. At the very least, if it was discovered that some of the individuals on these association’s board of directors had felony convictions for sex offenses, these governmental departments may not want to participate – as well the event’s sponsors.

According to the NRCHA, as of Oct. 23, 2017, nominations were being accepted for the next election cycle for the NRCHA Board of Directors for positions for nomination currently held by Sandy Collier, Brad Barkemeyer, Amanda Gardiner and Dan Roeser. Positions remaining in office for 2018 include Todd Bergen, Paul Bailey, Jake Telford, Joe Carter, Jim Lane, Trey Neal, Diane Edwards and Jon Roeser.

Attached is a copy of the NRCHA 2018 Election Notice, which interestingly includes in disclosure and eligibility requirements: (iv) full disclosure of any felony convictions on record and signing the NRCHA Code of Conduct and Confidentiality agreement.

Click for NRCHA 2018 Election Notice>>

However, there is no known check or penalties in place to make sure those signing it are being truthful, other than, “If discovered, they will be immediately suspended from the ballot or later from the board.” No mention of the loss of their membership in the NRCHA.

WHO ELSE SHOULD HAVE BACKGROUND CHECKS?

Also, another group of members of horse associations who have access to women and children are the horse trainers who have clinics on a regular basis, teaching, among others, such as women and children, how to ride and show horses. The NCHA, AQHA, APHA and NRCHA all have a Trainer’s Directory, so it would be easy to make a background check one of the requirements to be in the Trainer’s Directory, especially if they are training the riders. The cost of the background check could be up to the trainer, or part of their membership fee to be included in the association’s Trainer Directory. Several trainers are having their clinics at their own facilities.

However, according to my legal sources, if you’re not the trainer putting on the clinic, individuals or associations who are putting on clinics should check with the Sex Offender National Registry or the Sex Offender Registry in the state the clinician is living in to see if they are on the sex-offender list. If they fail to do that, the person or people, including associations, putting on the clinic could be involved in a lawsuit if the trainer they hired is accused of a sex offense during the clinic, should there be a complaint regarding sexual harassment or assault.

Also, if you are a horse facility owner and employ a trainer, if you do a background check on them, you can be assured that they are not sex offenders before they have the run of your facility and customers. If the trainer is coming from out of state, that state’s sex-offender registry should be checked if you don’t find them on the National Sex Offender chart. This could also help to alleviate any legal action against you.

Click for National Sex Offender chart>>

By today’s heightened awareness of sexual predation in our society, it seems prudent for 501 C 3 nonprofit organizations to design standards of care and rule adoptions to insure the safety and well being of its members and is especially prudent when an individual is a role model for new and upcoming generations. It would also be relevant for associations to have a hotline where victims can call into the association without being exposed as to who they are.

If you have any further questions regarding this problem, it is covered in Rick Dennis’ book “The American Horse Industry – Avoiding the Pitfalls,” available from Dennis at WIND RIVER COMPANY LLC, Richard E. Dennis, Managing Member

Phone: (985) 630-3500, Email: windrivercompany@gmail.com, Email – Personal: windrivercompany.rd@gmail.com, Web Site: http://www.windrivercompanyllc.com, or from online sources such as Amazon.com.

WHERE TO GO FOR BACKGROUND CHECKS:

The first question most people ask is, “Where do I go to find someone to do a legitimate background check on upcoming officers or members of the Hall of Fame?” You can do a lot of research yourself by Googling “background checks” for a variety of choices. If you would rather have an outside service do the checking for you, Rate My Horse Pro, who did the background check on Vogt, does background checks as well as do most private investigators. It may be one of the best investments your company, facility or association can make.

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7 Comments

  1. You may have saved some child from a horrible experience. I’ve never seen this topic covered before. You should be very proud of this column. Maybe a follow-up with some of the support groups and organizations available to those who’ve been molested or who know someone who has been but is too scared to come forward.
    Good Job.
    Kathy

  2. Hey Rick, the article Glory wrote about Vogt is unreal. It’s about time someone has the guts to bring the subject of sex Offenders to light in the horse business. A parent or a husband has the right to know this information about the so called hero’s in our industry to keep their family safe. Tell Glory two thumbs up on this one. Very disappointed in the NRCHA response!!!!!

    Rhonda

  3. If you want to include the NRHA in the sex offenders category, there are three of them that I know right around in my area.
    Kelly

  4. Very interesting!
    Ben

  5. Thank you for the WONDERFUL article on sex offenders in the horse industry. There should be MANDATORY background checks to any trainer listed in the NCHA Directory. I have two wonderful, amazing, innocent daughters ages 12/13, who would love to cut. However, my long-time, one-in-a-million trainer Shorty Russell (wife Nina Russell) retired several years ago when my girls were small, and I am struggling to reach out to new trainers because I realize the horse world is vicious and not every person will have my daughters, including myself’s, best interests at heart.

    I am an RN and out of my entire career, I have spent two of those years working in a 1400-bed prison which had a large population of SVP’s (Sexual Violent Predators). It opened my eyes in ways nothing ever has, yet most people will shy away if you start talking about pedophilia and protecting your kids and your self. I think the horse world nurtures that environment because so many put trainers on pedestals and are members of the “Good ‘Ole Boys Club.” It’s not just trainers; however, it encompasses the entire barn team.No one should be exempt from background checks when we put our kids in the hands of someone else as we simply reach out for help.

    Thank you again from the bottom of my heart for writing that article. I pray it lights a fire, especially in the major cow horse associations, to propose new mandatory reporting.
    Heather

  6. Wow .. Les Vogt. I would never have thought it in a million years. Makes you wonder “Who else?”
    William

  7. By today’s heightened awareness of sexual predation in our society, it seems prudent for 501 C 3 nonprofit organizations to design standards of care and rule adoptions to insure the safety and well being of its members and the general public as much as possible in order to identify and eliminate threats of this type as much as possible. This is especially, prudent when an individual is a role model for new and upcoming generations.
    Ed

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