Police investigate leading trainer over alleged sexual abuse of jockeys

Prominent racehorse trainer Gerald Ryan is the subject of a fresh police investigation into allegations he sexually assaulted a string of young jockeys and stablehands more than 25 years ago.

Ryan, who has won training premierships in Brisbane and is now based at Rosehill Gardens in Sydney, has been plagued by serious misconduct accusations for decades, but has never been charged by police or sanctioned by racing authorities.

Trainer Gerald Ryan at Royal Randwick Racecourse in Sydney in 2020.Credit:Getty Images

A Victoria Police spokesman confirmed a new investigation had been launched into historical allegations of sexual abuse.

“Bayside Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team detectives are investigating reports of historical sexual offending in Flemington and other areas in the 1990s. Investigations remain ongoing,” the police spokesman said.

Ryan declined to comment when contacted on the weekend.

Many of the allegations relate to his tenure at the former Hobson’s Lodge stables, which adjoined Flemington Racecourse and was owned by former Victoria Racing Club (VRC) chairman David Moodie.

Moodie called a meeting of all staff at Hobson’s Lodge in April 1996, following a series of complaints against Ryan. According to reports at the time, Moodie asked if anyone had been sexually harassed – and more than half of the 22 employees raised their hands.

Within days of the meeting, Ryan went on a month’s leave from Hobson’s Lodge, while an investigation was launched by stewards from the VRC, which was responsible for oversight of the sport in Victoria at the time.

The VRC informed Ryan that he would have to “show cause” as to why he should keep his trainer’s licence, at a hearing in June 1996.

Just three days before he was due to defend the serious accusations Ryan handed back his licence to the VRC. At the time, he was Victoria’s leading trainer, but never explained his sudden departure.

He is understood to have trained horses in Malaysia for a stint, before returning to Australia in 1997 and establishing a base on the Gold Coast.

In 2016, an investigation by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald revealed a former champion jockey was also allegedly sexually assaulted by Ryan as he slept in a Sydney apartment just days before the Golden Slipper Stakes in March 1996.

The jockey, who was 22 at the time, awoke and grabbed Ryan by the neck and threw him against a wall. Other Hobson’s Lodge staff sleeping in adjoining apartments were woken by the commotion.

Gail Goring, the mother of former jockey Mark Goring, said in 2016 that her son was repeatedly groped by Ryan as a 15-year-old apprentice.

She said her son was one of several jockeys to provide a victim impact statement to the VRC, but he never reported the assaults to police because of fears it would damage his career prospects.

“When this matter came to a head, I asked Mark why he hadn’t said anything. His answer was ‘who’s going to believe me against Gerald Ryan?’” she said in 2016.

In August 1997, Goring sent a letter to the VRC pleading with them to never issue Ryan with another licence in Victoria.

“Inspector Mark Flanagan of the vice squad, racing division, advised Mark to press charges because he was a minor at the time,” she said in a letter to the VRC.

“Mark declined to do so because he thought the immense interest and publicity could be detrimental to his career.”

Mark Goring was killed in a race fall at Tatura in 2003.

A spokeswoman for Victoria’s Racing Integrity Commissioner said it would be inappropriate to comment on any ongoing police investigation.

“However, the commissioner would like to remind those in the racing industry who have experienced, is experiencing, or has observed, physical and sexual assault and abuse and sexual harassment in the Victorian racing industry, there is still an opportunity to be heard by taking part in the Independent Review into Victorian Racing Industry Victim Support and Complaint Processes,” the spokeswoman said.

If you are troubled by this report or experiencing a personal crisis, you can call Lifeline 131 114 or Beyond Blue 1300 224 636 or visit lifeline.org.au or beyondblue.com.au

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