The first month of 2023 has only just come to a close and already five trainers have been placed on an interim suspension by the U.S. Center for SafeSport.

What is an interim suspension?

According to the USEF, “The U.S. Center for SafeSport may impose interim measures, i.e. a temporary suspension, when they deem it is appropriate to ensure the safety and well-being of the Reporting Party, Athletes, other Non-Athletes or the Responding Party. Interim measures may be appropriate where an allegation against the Responding Party is sufficiently serious that the Responding Party’s continued participation could be detrimental to the sport or its reputation.”

An individual may request that the U.S. Center for SafeSport stay the temporary suspension in certain circumstances, e.g. participation in a certain event, and/or request an interim measures hearing, which will be afforded within 72 hours of such request and conducted before an independent arbitration body.

Only six equestrians were on the list at the start of 2023. In January, that number has nearly doubled with the addition of five new names. Those are:

  • Show jumper Alec Lawler of Atherton, CA was arrested on Thursday, January 5 on multiple felony charges relating to seducing a minor. The 30-year-old trainer who operated out MeadowGrove Farm was added to the SafeSport Interim Suspension list the following day. Lawler was released from jail after posting $140,000 bail while he awaits arraignment.
  • Tom Harvey is a dressage trainer at Quail Valley Farm of Dawson, GA, a full service equestrian facility that provides equestrian services for serious dressage and eventing riders. Harvey was placed on interim suspension on January 10 after a criminal deposition regarding allegations of sexual misconduct.
  • SHRSP Cecil Clay “Chip” Marshall of Bluff City, TN was given an Interim Suspension for Allegations of Misconduct on Jan 23. Marshall has also been a registered sex offender since 2002.
  • Jumper trainer Harrison Brown of Clackamas, OR was added to the list on January 30, 2023, given a temporary suspension following allegations of misconduct.
  • Christian Heineking is a German show jumping trainer operating out of October Hill Farm based in Aledo, TX. Heineking was given a temporary suspension on Jan 30 following allegations of misconduct.

Lawler and Harvey were moved from the Interim Suspension List to the Suspension List on February 1. Lawler has been suspended for Criminal Disposition – Sexual Misconduct and Criminal Disposition – involving a minor. Harvey has been suspended for Criminal Disposition – Sexual Misconduct. Both suspensions are currently under appeal.

The U.S. Center for SafeSport was created to address the issue of abuse in sport. It works in conjunction with US Equestrian to enforce the SafeSport Code and the Federal Safe Sport Act, created in response to the Larry Nassar/U.S. Gymnastics case in 2017. The aim of both the Code and the Safe Sport Act is to protect athletes across all Olympic and amateur sporting disciplines from harm or abuse.

If you have a reasonable suspicion of sexual misconduct, make a report electronically to the U.S. Center for SafeSport or call (720) 531-0340.

For more information on sexual abuse in horse sport and what you can do about it, visit Need to talk? The specialized counselors at Athlete Helpline provide crisis intervention, emotional support, connection to resources and reporting guidances Monday through Friday, 12pm to 8pm Pacific Time. Call or text 1-888-279-1026.