By Horse Journals Media
On June 11, 2018, at a special meeting of the board of the Show Jumping Hall of Fame, the Board of Directors voted to remove Jimmy Williams as an inductee.
“In voting to remove Williams, who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1989, the Board cited the ‘Rules for Induction into the Show Jumping Hall of Fame’ in the Hall of Fame’s By-Laws that include ‘integrity’ and ‘character’ among the attributes upon which an inductee’s standing should be based,” states a press release by Classic Communications.
Jimmy Williams was regarded as an extraordinary horseman who trained dozens of champion horses, and whose students included numerous international riders. Many of those riders refer to him as the most important equestrian influence on their lives.
But a number of former students of Williams, who died in 1993, have now come forward with stories of sexual assault and describe the legendary horseman as a predator who abused them when they were children. Several of these students have described nightmares in the barn where Williams would corner them in a horse stall, shove his tongue into their mouths, and push their hands into his pants.
The Chronicle of the Horse has published testimony from five of Williams’ former students, and the New York Times has reported on interviews of 38 former students, trainers, grooms, officials and members of California’s Flintridge Riding Club where Williams was based from 1956 until his death. They describe “a rarefied social scene in which Mr. Williams groped and kissed young girls publicly and with impunity.” Among them is Olympic show jumper, Anne Kursinski, who alleges that Williams sexually assaulted her for six years beginning when she was 11 years old. The article recounts that he tasted of alcohol whenever he pinned her in a horse stall and crammed his tongue into her mouth, and that he penetrated her when she was 11 years old. “I was a little kid, and he was God,” she said.
Anne Kursinski on Eros at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo: Alamy/Split Seconds
Others who rode with Williams as children say they were repeatedly molested by him. In the New York Times article, Karen Herold, 58, who rode at the Club from age 16 to 20, described the unspoken rule of not divulging what was happening. The article states that Williams continually molested her and that he “wielded carrot and stick to ensure silence… better horses to ride for those who were compliant, and threats they’d fail in the sport without him as coach.”
The New York Times also reports that international show jumper Hap Hansen, who grew up riding at Flintridge, said he witnessed Williams kissing and touching girls and women but believed it was consensual. The report includes Hansen’s comments that Williams was a great horseman and a legend in his time, and “those things are stupid to bring up whether they are true or not.”
Williams had a motion picture background that included performing equestrian stunts for Tyrone Power, and trained Albarado in the Walt Disney feature film, “The Horse in the Grey Flannel Suit.” He was a founder and director of the Pacific Coast Horse Show Association, and the first recipient of their Horseman of the Year award in 1977. He was a USET coach in 1978–1980, and chef d’equipe in 1981–1982. In 1989, the American Horse Shows Association named him the first winner of its Lifetime Achievement Award, calling it “The Jimmy A. Williams Lifetime Achievement Award.” He is also named to the National Reined Cow Horse Association Hall of Fame.
Williams was never officially charged with a crime.
Main photo: Dreamstime/Jakub Gojda
- With files from The New York Times, The Chronicle of the Horse, Classic Communications, and Oxygen.com.