Equestrian Australia - Eventing Australia crumbling over Eventer Callum Buczak Rape Charge

This is becoming quite the controversary. Event rider Callum Buczak is charged with raping a fellow rider. Sad to hear this as was a follower of his on instagram and enjoyed his posts. Already some resignations over this.

https://www.equestrian.org.au/news/board-director-gillian-canapini-resignation

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/sport/olympics/equestrian-australia-faces-pressure-to-ban-rider-accused-of-rape/news-story/c957fa831613cd5ae01f9262d7c8f434

Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick has called on Equestrian Australia’s chair to suspend the membership of an Olympic hopeful who has continued to compete in the elite sport after being charged with raping another rider.

In a letter written to Alastair McKinlay on Tuesday evening, Senator Patrick asked the board to reconsider its decision to reject Equestrian Australia CEO Lucy Warhurst’s request to suspend the membership of eventer Callum Buczak.

According to a letter from Victoria Police seen by The Australian, the 28-year-old was charged on August 2 for allegedly raping a woman in March this year. He strongly denies the claim.

“I am aware of a Board decision made on Tuesday 17 September 2019 to reject a recommendation of your CEO, Ms Lucy Warhurst, to suspend the membership of a male member of Equestrian Victoria charged with the rape of a female Member,” Senator Patrick wrote.

“I do not wish to prejudice the case before the Courts, however, I ask that you reconsider the board’s decision. I do so noting that the Victorian Police have met the Victorian Director of Public Prosecution’s burden for commencing prosecution in relation to a most serious charge.”

Senator Patrick said that while he respected the presumption of innocence, it was his view that “allowing the accused to continue participation in your organisation’s activities, under the circumstances, does not meet community expectations.”

It is understood the body’s decision to allow the man to continue to compete at Equestrian Australia events and not suspend his membership, while the matter proceeds before the courts, has created a split on the board.

Equestrian Australia was last week rocked by the resignation of director Gillian Canapini, who quit the day after the board meeting in which Buczak’s suspension was discussed.

Senator Patrick’s letter comes eight months after he used parliamentary privilege to question the body’s handling of separate sexual misconduct claims in a Senate estimates hearing on community affairs.

Senator Patrick questioned the sporting body’s governance, telling the February 20 hearing he had been made aware of a number of allegations regarding inappropriate sexual conduct by an Equestrian Australia official.

“I’m really raising it from a precautionary perspective and want to ask some questions about governance,” Senator Patrick said.

Sport Australia CEO Kate Palmer told Senate estimates she had been notified of the matter by a “bystander”, but didn’t have the authority to intervene in or conduct a review into this particular matter.

“We have been supporting and providing advice to Equestrian Australia about how they can manage the allegations, based on the balance of natural justice and procedural fairness and following some guidelines of the AMA around complaint handling,” she said at the time. Ms Palmer encouraged the individuals to contact Sport Australia’s sexual misconduct helpline, which is managed by the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre.

“We would encourage those individuals to use that very confidential helpline, because it is a very serious allegation and, obviously, of real concern to us,” she said.

The sporting body told The Australian on Tuesday the alleged rape did not take place at a rider event and insisted it took the safety of its members seriously.

“Everyone has the right to a fair trial and Equestrian Australia will make no comment which might prejudice that right,” Equestrian Australia said.

“Equally, Equestrian Australia takes its responsibility seriously to ensure that equestrian sport is safe for everybody.”

The allegations cap a tumultuous year for the national sporting body, whose high-performance team will receive $3.2m in taxpayer funding for the 2019-20 financial year.

In February, former Equestrian Australia chair Judy Fasher and two directors resigned three months after members of the board launched a coup to unseat them.

The sport in May fronted a coronial inquest into the deaths of junior riders Olivia Inglis and Caitlyn Fischer, who died within weeks of each other in 2016 when competing at separate events.

Nine issues are being investigated, including whether safety procedures at NSW equestrian events were adequate and whether the design of the courses contributed to the deaths.

Other points of inquiry include whether there were appropriate risk ­management and emergency ­response plans in place and whether the ­recommendations arising from Equestrian Australia’s report following the deaths was “appropriate”.

Guilty until proven innocent, obviously…

:confused:

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Did you read the article, they want to suspend him because that follows Safe Sport guidelines, The evidence was heavy enough to support prosecutor placing the charges etc. However, Equestrian Australia refuses to sign the agreement to the Safe Sport guidelines and instead issued their own sexual misconduct policy.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out, regardless if he is guilty or innocent.

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I’m with you. Due process is a fundamental right of Western Civilization. If the evidence is “heavy enough” then Justice will be done, placing charges does not mean guilty. I’m not a fan of punishing and suspending anyone based on accusations, secret hearings or any other extra-judicial slippery slope. Like it or not, we’re supposed to err on the side of assumption of innocence. I’d like to think we’ve evolved a bit from the Salem Witch Trials. Flame suit on.

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From his fb page this morning

As many of you will be aware, there have been various articles circulating in the press and on social media relating to a criminal act which is alleged that I have committed. In particular I am referring to the article printed in The Age (online) on 24 September 2019.

Since the publication of The Age article, The Age have made corrections to the article and corrected some misinformation which had been given to them and which had been published without any journalistic investigation.

I am seeking legal advice in relation to the misreporting undertaken by The Age newspaper which has unfairly besmirched my reputation as a competitor and more importantly as a decent human being.

The allegations which are made against me are the subject of Court proceedings and therefore I am unable to make a detailed statement in response. That said, I will state that the allegations made against me are strongly denied and shall be vehemently opposed.

The person making the allegation is an adult and as stated by Equestrian Australia this has nothing to do with any equestrian activities or events.

Furthermore, the alleged victim in the matter is currently the subject of a Victoria Police investigation and again I put my faith and trust in our law enforcement agencies and the judicial system in order to find out the truth and restore my reputation which is being attacked by a person for reasons best known to them.

Horses are my life. I have worked my entire career to compete with and care for the animals I love, towards a dream I have held since a child to compete at the very highest level. I would never do anything to jeopardise that dream.

Those closest to me know the type of person I am and the allegations made against me are not reflective of the way I have been brought up or the respect I have for women with whom I stand shoulder to shoulder in all aspects of life.

I am devastated that such a horrendous allegation has been made against me and assure all my supporters that I will not rest until my name is cleared and justice has been done.

I am grateful to Equestrian Australia for their fair position in allowing the proper legal process to take its course and I am sure that justice will prevail.

I am greatly appreciative of the unwavering support from those who know me the best, my friends, my family and my girlfriend Alex during this testing time.

I am also enormously grateful and overwhelmed from the amount of support I have received from members of the wider equestrian community. I’m sorry I haven’t had a chance to respond to all your messages but I will do so when I can.

Your collective support gives me the strength to fight for justice and clear my name.

Thank you to you all.

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do not need to go back that far, just to the 1950s … U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy ruined many people’s lives

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I guess we will have to wait and see what happens at trial. Just thought EA stance was interesting in contrast to what we are experiencing in the US and Canada. I believe a criminal charge is grounds for suspension from SS in the US right?

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Eventing Australia is in the hot seat over TWO RIDER DEATHS.

The Age article states that EA has been taken to task over nine safety-related issues.

However, none of these issues fall under what is now called ‘safe sport’. Irony?

I’m not putting down ‘safe sport’ in any way. It’s important. But I fear that the current emphasis on ‘safe sport’ might allow the sport org to deflect attention onto a more au courant version of ‘safety’ and thus not fully investigate or rectify the root causes that led to fatalities within the confines of the sport.

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Good point JER. Lots of issues it seems.

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Also, it’s important to note the power struggle going on at EA - resignations, a failed coup - and understand that someone has leaked the rape allegations to the press.

The leaks could be out of a genuine concern about the rape allegations or the leaks could be part of one faction’s strategy in the power struggle.

But rape allegations among members of EA in admittedly non-EA situations and deaths of EA members at EA-sanctioned competitions are two very different things in terms of organizational accountability.

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Absolutely, due process is a fundamental right. That said, there are many, many instances in which an allegation is sufficient to trigger a process that includes some restrictive action before (potential) conviction has occurred. Some examples:

  1. A teacher is accused of improper behavior with a student. They are removed from the classroom, generally through suspension, while the issue is investigated.
  2. A police officer discharges their weapon in the line of duty and someone is killed as a result. They are taken off of active duty, again usually through suspension, over the course of the investigation.
  3. The police are called to a home in which an assault (of any kind) is alleged to have occurred. The accused is incarcerated (sometimes without bail) while the issue is investigated and tried in a court of law.

All of the examples above involve someone accused, but not convicted, of a crime losing some amount of freedom while the matter is investigated. This is because it is generally agreed that if the accusation is credible, it is in the public interest for that person to no longer be in certain situations. If the accusation is found to not be credible, the restrictions are lifted and they return to normal life.

I am not entirely sure why there is such a backlash citing due process and fundamental rights when accused persons have their rights (somewhat) restricted over the course of an investigation all the time. No one is saying a word about Michael Barisone being denied bail and remaining in custody while his case is tried. The question with respect to this man is whether or not he should be allowed to attend horse shows where his alleged victim might be present, as he is actively investigated by police. I don’t get why that is so totally impossible to consider.

(Not trying to flame you - just presenting an alternative perspective, riderboy).

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Well, he did shoot someone twice in the chest and fire shots at another person. These facts are not in dispute.

I find this hard to equate with rape allegations.

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Sure, though the self-defense argument is still floating around (I take absolutely no position on that case at all, or this one for that matter - just pointing out that the MB case isn’t completely cut and dried). My other examples referred more to allegations if you would prefer.

More to the point, no one is suggesting that this man be incarcerated - just that maybe he shouldn’t attend horse shows where his alleged victim may be. If we accept that accused persons regularly lose some of their freedoms while investigations are ongoing, the idea that this man might be temporarily unwelcome at horse shows should not be completely unthinkable. That was my only point.

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If you relate SafeSport to a conduct or ethics review board that many organizations have, there should be no backlash as what SS does is very similar to many review board practices. However, the equestrian world has never had a conduct review board for the majority of the membership, except for drug infractions, and they are now revolting because they are being brought into the corporate world. The days of everyone in the equestrian world just doing as they please and damn the consequences are disappearing and professionals aren’t too happy about it.

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Do you feel the same way about course designers after someone is killed on one of their courses?

Marigold, I do understand the points you’re making. I’m simply extending them to the fatalities in the sport.

Fair question. The honest answer is I’ve never thought about it. I know for sure my feeling would depend on the how - jump related vs. on the flat, due to interference (ex. dog) or true accident (ex. stumble) vs an honest attempt at the jump, etc. For now I’ll say that I should think about it more before giving you a hard answer, but insofar as a suspension would imply there was an actual investigation in the event of a death on course, I don’t think it’s a bad idea.

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Regarding the suspensions of police officers and teachers during the investigative process, it should be pointed out that those suspensions are usually with pay.

A professional horse trainer is likely unable to earn their usual income of they can’t attend shows and other events.

It’s a very difficult question. What if he is later proved to be innocent? Or, conversely, what if he is proved guilty? Or what if no official determination can be made? What is most fair to both parties?

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I think it’s important to recognize that his accuser finds herself unable to compete because he is present at events.

Is that fair? You get raped, and then oh, also, you can’t compete at your sport without having to be in the same place as your rapist?

So for Eventing Australia, they have to weigh not just his interests and the innocent until proven guilty, but also her interests. Is she not entitled to protection?

As an alternative, he could be arrested and held in jail pending his trial. That happens too, sometimes. Even to people who are acquitted. When you consider that, maybe staying home from some horse trials isn’t too much to ask.

Regardless of your thoughts on the merits of this particular case, every NF has to get their process ducks in a row on this. Right now they’re hiding behind, “she’s an adult and it didn’t happen at a sanctioned event.” Some day there’s going to be an accusation from a child, or at a sanctioned event… or by a rider who is more important to the Olympic prospects than the rapist. There are going to be accusations about people who are clear predators and threats to the community. The NF is going to be privy to details that are appalling and that clearly require action whether or not they are able to make those details public.

This is why we have SafeSport in the US now and it’s going to on the whole be beneficial for our sport.

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So far as I know, we have only the word of an apparently unstable “victim” and that of her"partner". Both outrageously unsavory characters.

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