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Attorney for equestrian staffer charged with sex abuse trying to bar news media access with misleading claims

Judge Katherine Weber, who approved media access, also had to intervene to stop a deputy who attempted to stop Equestrian Media Group freelance reporter Raymond Rendleman from recording.

Harrison Brown, 26, appeared on Feb 15th, 2024, during a case management hearing in the Clackamas County Circuit Court. Brown is charged with four felony counts of sex abuse involving a then-minor. (Photo Credit – Equestrian Media Group)

Oregon City, Ore. – An attorney representing the now former staffer and alleged romantic partner of a professional horse trainer, Jill McGrady, wants journalists restricted after also making false statements to question media “objectivity” to convince the court to limit media access which is expressly allowed by court rules.

Harrison Joseph Brown, 26, was indicted by a Clackamas County grand jury in October on four felony counts of sex abuse involving a minor and arrested days after turning himself into authorities. The alleged then-minor victim, Kaylyn McGrady, now 21, is the estranged daughter of professional horse trainer Jill McGrady, who operated Quiet Rein Riding School and was the founder of the non-profit Leg Up Northwest, both of which are now shuttered.

The younger McGrady gave an exclusive interview to Equestrian Media Group in April of 2023, where she and her attorney, Russel Prince, detailed how she had initially tried to report the alleged conduct to her mother, who failed to report the incident to authorities.

Brown was permanently suspended by the US Center for SafeSport in August of 2023 following a year-long investigation into the allegations after McGrady opened up to investigators in the summer of 2022.

During a case management hearing on February 15th, Brown’s attorney, Shannon Kmetic, raised concern with the judge allowing Equestrian Media Group’s freelance reporter Raymond Rendleman to film the proceedings. A video of the incident is available by clicking here.

Rendleman is also a seasoned local reporter and current editor for multiple publications of Pamplin Media Group, including Oregon City News & the Milwaukie Review. Rendleman indicated that Kmetic is familiar with who he is.

The concern raised by Kmetic followed Brown’s family members’ objections to the media access, prompting a sheriff’s deputy to intervene and attempt to stop the filming. Judge Katherine Weber quickly intervened to stop the deputy, stating she had granted permission for reporters to record.

Immediately after the Judge made clear the recording was permitted, Kmetic alleged that this publication’s reporters had caused “commotion” and safety concerns for Mr. Brown on prior occasions.

“Judge, my concern– I understand that the court has the purview to allow that– unfortunately, these individuals have caused some commotion outside the courtroom on prior occasions, so I’m very concerned about their objectivity as it relates to these proceedings,” Kmetic told the court.

Harrison Brown appeared with his attorney, Shannon Kmetic (left), during a court hearing on Feb 15th, 2024. (Photo Credit – Equestrian Media Group)

However, reporters with this publication or Pamplin Media Group had never attended any past hearings in Brown’s case.

Kmetic promptly tried walking back her statements in emails with Equestrian Media Group, claiming she was not being specific about the conduct of any journalists but was referring to other individuals.

“If you report that, it would be inaccurate. I said individuals associated with this case, which is absolutely true.  If you make statements like you indicated, they would be in error,” wrote Kmetic.

However, it was pointed out to Kmetic that her remarks were made in direct response to the issue of the media access request, which the Judge granted pursuant to court and constitutional rules that allow such access.

Kmetic also clearly said she had concerns about “objectivity,” which this publication and Rendleman believed left little doubt that it was targeted at news media in an effort to convince the court to stifle future access.

This reporter, on behalf of Equestrian Media Group, stated to Kmetic in part:

“We intend to report that your allegations are blatantly false, as neither myself, freelance reporter Raymond Rendleman or any of our other staff or freelance reporters have even attended any court hearings for your client’s case at any time until today, and no reporter affiliated with this publication has been involved in any [commotion] that you implied to the court.”

This reporter also stated, “…I hope your intent is not to provide false or misleading statements in an attempt to have the court stifle journalists’ freedom of press rights through such allegations.”

Kmetic promptly responded, saying: “If you were recording, it was without court permission.  I am not going to debate with you.”

However, a court clerk confirmed before that Equestrian Media Group had approval from the court before the proceedings. Judge Weber had also established as much during the proceeding while Rendleman was clearly recording.

Kmetic went on in an attempt to intimidate this reporter from the publication of her emailed statements.

“You do not have permission to publish any of my statements. And again [sic] you do not have an order to do what you did [sic] which I intend to raise with the Court. It will not be permitted in any capacity moving forward.”

Equestrian Media Group responded by contesting Kmetic’s implication that her permission was required to publish her statements.

“You should know we do not need your permission to publish your statements, whether they have been recorded or not. As an attorney, you should know we are protected by the 1st Amendment and Article 1, Section 8 of the Oregon Consitution.”

This publication’s response also said: “While you claim we will be prohibited, I’m sure the decision would be the courts as far as being prohibited from conducting media access of the courts pursuant to UTCR 3.180 and rights afforded by the Oregon Consitution on such matters. We will absolutely contest dubious efforts to restrict ourselves or any other media representatives from being prohibited from engaging in a constitutionally protected activity.”

Kmetic also went on to demand we no longer contact her and that she and her client would have no further statements.

In Oregon, Media access to the courts is generally required to be granted according to rights afforded under Article 1, Section 10, of the Oregon Consitution.

According to the Reporters Commitee for the Freedom of the Press, a determination was made by the 1987 Oregon Supreme Court in the case of Oregonian Publ’g Co. v. O’Leary, which is protection also separate from that provided by the 6th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as affirmed in the 1980 case of Oregonian Publ’g Co. v. Deiz.

These cases have resulted in the adoption of Uniform Trial Court Rules by the Oregon trial courts that expressly provide for camera access by media representatives.

Equestrian Media Group quickly obtained the court audio from the Feb 15th hearing through public records, which further verified the statements made by Kmetic during the hearing.

While it was clear Kmetic attempted to tie reporters to the alleged conduct by other individuals outside the courthouse, no evidence or additional details about those allegations are known or could be confirmed.

Brown’s next court hearing is scheduled for March 18th at 8:30am at the Clackamas County Courthouse.

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