The recent NYT cover piece about the late horse trainer, Jimmy Williams, called The Equestrian Coach Who Minted Olympians, and Left Behind a Trail of Child Molestation was very disturbing to me -- and not because of the accusations of child molestation on Williams' part, but because it showed how deeply destructive and insidious the #metoo movement and the NYT participation in it has become.

The NYT has been publishing articles in collaboration with, rather than investigation of, the #metoo movement. Jimmy Williams, who's been dead for more than twenty years, has become vilified. All of the statues, paintings, trophies, honors and accolades have been stripped from him post mortem. His name has been removed from the Flintridge Riding Club in the Pasadena area of South California.

Once again, the NYT is seeing itself not as a newspaper but as its own court of law in which it tries people and finds them guilty, without sufficiently backing up the claims it makes. The NYT has become a insidious manipulator of the minds of millions of Americans.

I know a bit about Jimmy Williams. I competed on the California horse show circuit in the mid-to-late 1960s. I spent the first fifteen years of my life in the Pasadena area and Jimmy Williams and his stable in Flintridge were a big part of the horse scene there. I didn't want to ride hunters and jumpers -- I preferred American Saddlebred horses -- so I didn't train with Williams or keep a horse at the Flintridge Riding Club, although I did compete at the annual Flintridge Horse Show. And although I never knew Williams personally, I certainly saw a lot of Williams and his stable at the big shows, like Del Mar, Indio and Santa Barbara. And I heard a lot about him and his amazing stable of riders.

Me winning an equitation championship on the CA show circuit at 16 in 1969.

This is not to say I know whether or not Jimmy Williams is guilty of the child molestation that's claimed in the piece. It's to say that the journalism is dreadfully propagandistic for the #metoo movement and here's why:

1) The women who've accused Jimmy Williams of molesting them participated in group therapy in the 1990s after his death. The journalist never interviewed this therapist or found out anything about this therapist. What kind of therapy was being done? At that time, a number of therapists were conducting "recall memory" therapy in which they urged clients to explore hidden memories abuse that caused and underlined their current problems, often of addiction or depression. "Recall memory" therapy has been discredited since in the wake of the McMartin Day Care trial in which the McMartins were wrongfully imprisoned on the basis of "recall memory" therapy done to the children who testified.

There are those who will say, "Yes, but it was more than one woman who accused Jimmy Williams." Yet -- and I'll probably get slammed by some women for saying this, but it's true -- put women in a group and they're highly suggestible. They want to get along in the group, they don't want to be left out, they are easily swayed by what the group they're in tells them to do. Women are the easiest of cult members. You could say this is the basis of the whole #metoo movement with its apt name: I am woman, don't leave me out of this trend.

So I would like to have known what kind of therapy was being practiced on these women. And I'd like to know about the therapist. Is this another McMartin scenario?

2) There is no real discussion in the NYT piece about what the "child molestation" actually meant. Anne Kursinski claims that Jimmy Williams penetrated her when she was 11. Again, this is typical of the shoddy NYT journalism in their collusion with the #metoo movement. They will publish the allegations of sexual abuse of these women, but they don't tell you when, where, how. This isn't journalism of any high standard.

Also: what is the definition of "child"? Aside from Kursinski at 11, the accusations are abuse of teenage girls who rode with him. Teenagers may be considered underage, but why are they considered children? The answer is that the #metoo movement wants to define all women as children. A Hollywood starlet who, at 25, goes to a producer's hotel room and he comes onto her is considered as innocent as a 5-year-old. This has allowed the #metoo movement to say that women never have to grow up, and we're certainly seeing the disastrous effects of this on the Millennial generation who are caught up in this as Social Justice Warriors -- they refuse to grow up and take any responsibility for their actions. In addition, this lumps everything together under the heading of "child abuse" which labels a man the worst kind of evil scum possible. I think the definitions need to be redefined if we're ever going to have any justice.

3) I'm sorry that Williams' prize pupil, Susan Hutchison, who rode with him from the age of five and became his live-in partner at eighteen, and has denied the allegations by the other female riders, declined to comment, but I can certainly understand why she wouldn't want to be possibly misquoted or misrepresented, as I feel that trainer Hap Hansen was in it. Hap Hansen made a perfectly good point, which is: why now? Why all these decades and decades later? He's right. What good does it do? I would add that it's coming at a time when Williams can't even defend himself.

Oh, but right -- according to the #metoo movement and the NYT, to say that someone accused of child molestation has the right to defend himself is blaming the victim.

Give me a break. I only hope that one day these women will be on the other end of the firing line. And no one gives them the chance to defend themselves -- that they are simply accused and lose everything in their lives.

4) There's no real attempt at providing a context for the horse show world, particularly during that era. Yes, there's a quote or two from someone saying something about the way the times were, but those quotes are presented as apologies from friends of Williams. What's laziest about this piece is this complete lack of sociological background. Most people reading it have never been in the horse world and haven't competed at shows.

So let me fill people in on what that piece is missing:

From the time I was 12 until I was 15 I rode at an American Saddlebred Stable across the arroyo from Flintridge owned and run by one of the few female trainers at that time, Aloha Robinson. When I was 15 my parents moved to Santa Barbara and I rode for the next couple of years at another stable in Montecito.

Aloha insisted on only having girls at her stable ("Boys are just too much damn trouble," she'd say.) And unlike Flintridge Club, we weren't pampered by a staff of grooms. We had to clean out the stalls, and take care of our horses ourselves. For me that included cleaning the smegma out of the sheath of my beloved 17-hand gelding.

But most of the horse world and most of the young female riders were from wealthy families. You couldn't compete in the kids' classes at that time and win if your parents didn't buy you a top horse. Jumping classes, as well as Saddlebred Five-Gaited classes, were about the horse. The rider was important, yes. But a top horse elevated a rider to the top levels.

In the mid to late 1960s that horse price tag could be as much as $40,000. Julianne Schmutz, a Saddlebred rider, was bought a $100,000 horse by her father. Those of us who didn't have that kind of money had a few options. We couldn't compete in open classes, which included riders of all ages. When my parents moved to Santa Barbara in 1968, I left Aloha's stables and took my horse to a very posh Montecito stable owned by a local heiress, Cynthia Wood. Cynthia's horses cost as much as $200,000. For people like me who didn't have that kind of money -- and I came from an upper middle class family -- in order to do well at shows, you needed to concentrate on competing in kids' equitation classes, which were based on the rider's poise and capabilities. By the time I quit riding even the price tag even for equitation horses had reached $20,000 and up. And this is the 1960s.

So the horse show world was made up of a lot of very wealthy young women who came from families where the father, generally a Republican, was powerful or successful and often absent and busy, and the mothers were often eager to get away. And there were also adult women who were often heiresses. The horse show world was full of parties and glamor -- and a lot of drinking and sex. 

And what the NYT also leaves out is how many of these rich women lusted after male horse trainers. Nor does the piece paint any kind of picture of what 1960s and 1970s were like in the show world.

By the time I was 13, I was well aware that many of the adults were having extramarital sex and/or swinging. Once when I was staying at a motel while competing at Del Mar, I overheard a woman and a man in the next room. "Listen, you tall skinny cowboy -- get in this bed and screw me now!" the woman said. I recognized her as a married woman, and btw, a mom of a young female horse rider, and knew that she was sleeping around on her wealthy husband who was footing the bill for this fling -- with her daughter's horse trainer.

Another time I saw a woman who kept a great stable of horses being fought over by two of her much younger Mexican grooms. The woman was wearing a mink coat over her riding attire, walked up to the two men and parted them with her hands.

It wasn't just men on the show circuit who were lusty. I saw a lot of adult women who were just as hot to trot as any guy and just as capable of seducing a man as vice versa. And good for them! I never felt judgmental towards them. But to frame it now as a pack of hideously sexually aggressive men on the circuit at that time is just ludicrous. And rewriting history (something the women of the #metoo movement love to do).

And still another time, I passed by Jimmy Williams' stable and witnessed a group of adult women -- some of whom I recognized as Pasadena society wives -- throwing their hotel room keys into his hat.

And speaking of Williams and teenage girls, in 2013, I was invited to lunch at the Flintridge Riding Club by a longtime horse riding friend who was my mother's age. At that time, Jimmy Williams' portrait was still prominent in the club house. I told my friend about how I'd seen these women tossing their hotel room keys in Williams' hat. She laughed and told me about the time she'd gone on an errand to Williams' house on the Riding Club property and he was there with a teenage girl who clearly was having consensual sex with him.

If you think that all the sex with teenage girls that Williams had was forced, then you have let the NYT do your thinking for you. The wealthy young female riders I saw at the shows often drank and smoked, and later when drugs became available, helped themselves to those as well. They were not always innocent young things who had no idea about the big bad world.

For one thing, any young girl who can climb up on a powerful horse who could crush and destroy and, in the case of Jimmy Williams' riders, jump that horse for speed and height -- well, please don't tell me that girl is a helpless thing. Are you really going to tell me she could handle an enormous beast and get it to jump 6' and not buck her off and she couldn't handle a mere man who was in his 50s and wasn't nearly as big as her horse or probably even the jump she got her horse to go over? I'm having a hard time with that one.

Because I myself rode bareback from age 4, and as a young teen on the trails of the mountains above the arroyo that separated Flintridge Riding Club from Aloha's Stables. One day I was riding with my friend Kathie and a guy jumped out of nowhere and tried to attack us. Kathie and I looked at each other, backed our horses up and galloped towards the man and we laughed ourselves silly at how he ran away. So much for us being fragile, shrinking violets who couldn't handle ourselves around men when we needed to.

I grew up riding bareback on trails and unafraid of taking care of myself if need be.

And all us horsey girls knew about sex. Because no one who hangs out around horses doesn't know about sex. By the time I was twelve, I knew how horses mated and I knew that while the mares got pregnant, the stallions went off and had sex as often as possible with other mares. You had to be pretty dense not to get that picture.

And I knew that horse trainers were not, at least in those days, genteel men who excelled in comp lit at Harvard before deciding to make their living in the saddle. In my day of riding, nearly all the California horse trainers came out of genuine cowboy backgrounds. They were often cowboys, or Kentucky good ol' boys. In L. A., they often had been doubles in Hollywood Westerns. Jimmy Williams filled in for Tyrone Power and my own female trainer, Aloha Robinson, was the daughter of a cowboy and began riding in silent movies during her teens.

I never knew a horse trainer who didn't drink hard. Aloha was a scotch drinker and began around 8 in the morning. ("My doctor tells me to do this for my heart," she explained to me when I stared at her.) She always had a cigarette in her mouth and thought nothing of blowing second hand smoke at us girls. I also never knew a trainer who didn't take pain pills. Most of them had had major falls, broken ribs or other bones.

I knew perfectly well as a young teen that the kind of guy who would get on a green stallion and risk getting trampled, wasn't the kind of guy who was the head of IBM. And I also knew that's why the wives of those heads of IBM wanted to sleep with those trainers.

And I also saw that it wasn't unusual for teenage girl riders to go after much older male trainers. I bought my horse from a wonderful horse trainer, Richard Smith, a true horse whisperer. He had gently trained my horse, who was like a great big dog -- I could even go in his stall and lie on him and fall asleep without ever worrying he'd hurt me. Richard was not a looker. He claimed to be 32, but looked more like sixty. And yet, he had an appeal for rich women. The heiress I mentioned earlier who was fought over by her grooms had been his live-in lover, and at Indio horse show in the late sixties I watched a gorgeous 18-year-old heiress fall in love with Richard, wear seductive outfits around him, and quickly take him away from his former heiress and marry him when she was still a teenager.

I'm sure there are a lot of horrified women reading this and feeling as though certainly I must have been severely damaged by my experience in the horse show world as a teenage girl.

And they would be so wrong. I loved my teen years in the horse show world. I loved Aloha, even with all her imperfections, which today would probably get her barred from the horse show world -- for example, she taught all us girls to drive her car when we were underage. When I had terrible stage fright before my first competition, she gave me a valium and a swig of Scotch. I don't remember much of that first time in the ring except that I felt awful, the judge excused me after the initial round and I threw up. I told Aloha that I never wanted to compete again and that I knew everyone was laughing at me. She told me "Nobody's thinking about you. They're just thinking about themselves. Tomorrow you'll go back in the ring and do better. Life is about getting up from defeat and trying again and again." OK, the Scotch was more than a tad irresponsible, but Aloha was right. I learned from Aloha that life is not a free pass, that it even takes what was a famously known motto of Jimmy Williams "No guts, no glory," which Susan Hutchison is said to have had tattooed on her.

And I learned how to say "no" to stable guys. Aloha usually kept men out of her stable, but one day when her broken ribs were too much, she hired a handsome 6'6" young man to help out. One day I was alone with him. I was listening to The Monkees on Aloha's transistor radio in the tack room polishing my saddle. He made fun of my taste in white boy music (he was black) and switched the station to James Brown. And then, because this was the fall of 1967, he told me about going to San Francisco for the Summer of Love and the sex he'd had. I was fourteen, and intensely curious about the Haight-Asbury scene, so I asked him what he did. He looked at me in a very sexy way and said "I got to make it with 3 women. Because, you see, I'm black and they didn't want to be racist. So what do you think, Polly?" I was incredibly turned on, but out of my depth and switched the station from James Brown. "I think I prefer the Monkees," I told him. He smiled and said that he had things to do around the stable.

And that was that. He could easily have forced me. I said "no" at 14 and he didn't push it. To repeat, at 14 I knew what the game was.

And lest anyone think that I'm in some kind of denial about the horrors of the horse show world I went through as a teen, I recently got together with some of the other women who also rode at Aloha's at the same time. All of them said that despite her flaws, Aloha was one of the best things that happened to us.

Those are my specific objections to the NYT piece about Jimmy Williams. I'm deeply disturbed by the power being given to the #metoo movement, by the media and the people who fire men simply because they're been accused and erase them from the history books. We need our history. It's the context of our development and for the NYT and the #metoo movement to eradicate this is simply a ploy on their part to eventually create their own context, a context in which they control all thoughts and actions.

I hope we stop that from happening but at the moment, women can destroy a man's career and his reputation simply by posting their accusations which range from rape to a pat on the booty to just being made so darned uncomfortable by the "toxic masculinity" of some men.

What kind of era are we going thru? We’re living thru a witch-hunt stretch, similar to the Satanic ritual-abuse episode in the late ‘80s and '90s. It's as destructive as the McCarthyism of the 1950s, only this time the witch-hunting isn't being done by right-wingers, it's being done by people who consider themselves liberal progressives.

They're not liberal and they're not progressive. They're aggressive Stalinist regressives. And sane women need to stand up and demand an end to the #metoo harassment.


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Reader Comments (7)

"They're not liberal and they're not progressive. They're aggressive Stalinist regressives. And sane women need to stand up and demand an end to the #metoo harassment."

Yes! 'Stalinist regressives' - good diagnosis & my new favorite epithet.

June 3, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJudith

Thanks, Judith! Ray says you're wonderful. Hope to meet you someday!

June 3, 2018 | Registered CommenterPolly Frost

Right on . Susie is a dear friend of mine . I used to be in her peer group and now I am in hers . I am 74 and Jimmy was also a dear friend as was Moussie (last ex wife of Jimmy's) . Susie gets enough backlash since all this "Me too stuff . She was wise to not comment . She was Jimmy's best friend and partner . She would have known .

January 26, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDianne Grod

Excellent piece. I showed in the 60s and 70s on Long Island, NY. Currently working as a USEF and FEI Steward in Wellington, FL; Tryon, NC and Lexington, KY. Thanks for your SPOT ON blog!

January 27, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterLaura Woodward

Very thoughtful blog. I rode at Flintridge in the late 60's- and find it hypocritical that 20 years after his death his accomplishments and the positive impact that he had on many of us are being erased in in the me-too frenzy, when so many other offenders live on in fame and acclaim. Revising history by eradicating the truth about Jimmy's greatness, is in its own way a cover up, and serves us poorly. Surely there is a better way.

February 26, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterElaine Stucy

Your comments and justification of rape and child molestation are disgusting. I’m embarrassed for you.

June 18, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie Michon

Dear Melanie Michon - although I suspect you are not revealing your real name because you didn't leave an email - you're a bully and a coward, which somehow go together, don't they? I'm used to hate email so I know when it's personal. My guess is you are one of the Rob Gage accusers, because this came right after his suicide. I'm quite sure you also know deep down that what you did is based on your desire for attention, not on any truth. Your tone is all projection. You need to atone to Rob's family and you need to face your karma you created which will be quite awful, for many lifetimes.

July 12, 2019 | Registered CommenterPolly Frost

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