Former Olympian and legendary equestrian Rich Fellers pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a minor Wednesday after being charged with grooming his teenage student into an illegal relationship.
Fellers, 63, pleaded guilty to interstate travel to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor and two counts of second-degree sexual abuse in a federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon, local CBS affiliate station KOIN reported.
The ex-Olympic show jumper and coach is expected to be sentenced to four years in prison on the federal charges as well as a 30-month concurrent sentence on Washington County charges as part of a plea agreement, according to the outlet.
Fellers, who was widely revered in the equestrian community, was arrested in 2021 for sexually abusing one of his students when she was 17 years old.
The victim, Maggie Kehring, has spoken publically about the abuse and described Fellers as a sort of father figure. She moved to an apartment of her own at 15 to be near his barn and training center.
She said when she was 16, her coach suddenly expressed that he had feelings for her and began grooming her until they had sex after her 17th birthday, Bloomberg reported last year.
Their relationship continued until Fellers’ wife caught them together at an Airbnb they were all sharing near a horse show in Michigan, according to the publication.
Soon Fellers and his wife were added to the US Center for SafeSport’s list of suspensions, which was established by Congress in 2017 to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct in Olympic sports in the wake of the Larry Nassar abuse stories.
When the abuse became known publicly, many in the tight-knit equestrian community lashed out at Kehring for the ban on the beloved coach and former Olympic star, she told the Chronicle of Horse in a previous interview.
Her lawyer said those people owe her an apology — especially now that Fellers admitted to abusing her.
“For all the horrible people in the equestrian community that said terrible things about Maggie, I think there can be no clearer vindication for what she’s been through [than this],” Kehring’s attorney Russell Prince told the publication Wednesday. “There’s quite a few people who owe Maggie Kehring and the Kehring family some heartfelt apologies.”
Kehring herself told the Chronicle that she didn’t have further comment on Fellers’ guilty plea, only that “the public record speaks for itself.”
Following Fellers’ arrest, Kehring and her family helped launch “#WeRideTogether,” a social media campaign to raise awareness around issues of sexual misconduct in equestrian sport.