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Trainer in viral horse abuse video threatens to sue journalists; attorney says video showed ‘specialized training’

"Simply put, there is no legal basis for any of your claims due to the truth of the statements in EMG’s publications and various press protections under the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution," said Equestrian Media Group's attorney in response.

Aumsville woman Geneva Boston is depicted in a video leaked online Sept. 4 allegedly whipping a horse. She was arrested for aggravated animal abuse, but prosecutors declined to file charges after a key witness refused to cooperate.

Salem, Ore. – The Oregon woman behind a viral video depicting the alleged abuse of a horse is now threatening legal action against Equestrian Media Group and other journalists who reported on the story.

Geneva Marie Boston, 27, of Salem, was arrested after turning herself in to authorities with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office back in September. Detectives with MCSO had been attempting to locate Boston and speak with her regarding allegations and widespread public outcry over a self-recorded video that was later leaked online.

According to a probable cause affidavit, she was seen repeatedly whipping a horse across the back and face.

Boston was also the subject of an investigative story by Equestrian Media Group in 2021 after falsely telling police a family’s horse had died as part of a coverup to ship and sell the horse out of state.

A November letter sent to Equestrian Media Group by attorney Erin Mee of Salem-based Lafky & Lafky, a law firm retained by Boston, stated this publication “…published false and defamatory statements without undertaking due professional diligence to verify their accuracy or provide the minimum necessary factual context.”

“[The] article contained numerous false and misleading statements, as well as sensationalizing and mis-characterizing [sic] a video of an interaction with a horse, with the result that it has destroyed Geneva Boston’s reputation in the community and her career while badly injuring her mental health,” Mee added.

The letter from Boston’s attorney also made strong threats of legal action directly against this reporter, other NW Horse Report staff, and even reporter Steven Floyd with The Canyon Weekly (Mt. Angel Publishing).

Floyd’s story, which broke the news on the DA’s decision not to prosecute Boston the evening before her scheduled court appearance, was provided by Floyd for publication by NW Horse Report. It was unclear if Boston’s attorney was even aware that Floyd’s story was originally published by The Canyon Weekly, or that Floyd actually worked for Mt. Angel Publishing and not Equestrian Media Group.

It was also unclear if similar threats of legal action had been made against that publication or numerous other publications across the country that reported on Boston.

Mee claimed in the legal threat letter that our reporting also “relied on unnamed jail officials for details of the investigation.”

However, an attorney for Equestrian Media Group pointed out in a response letter that our story did not rely on a jail official for details of the investigation but instead to verify details related to Boston’s booking into the Marion County Jail— leading to information confirming that online booking information that Boston was being held without bail was indeed inaccurate and that she would be released. That reporting can be viewed by clicking here.

The letter from Boston’s attorney also claimed she was only “briefly held on suspicion of a charge due to public outcry over a horse training video, but Ms. Boston was never charged with a crime or scheduled for any public hearings.”

The response seemed to downplay that Boston was actually arrested and also played semantics regarding the use of the term “charged.”

“Ms Boston was indeed scheduled for a court hearing on or about October 4th, [2023]– information that was repeatedly confirmed with multiple court officials. Court hearings are public by their nature, and it need not be publically advertised to be ‘public’. The night of her arrest, jail officials also confirmed the October 4th hearing date scheduled for Ms. Boston, which would have been provided to Ms Boston during her release. Additionally, Ms. Boston was certainly arrested on charges of animal abuse,” said Joseph Turk, an attorney for Equestrian Media Group, in a January 4th, 2024 response letter.

Mee also provided her clients justification for the actions viewed in the viral video, which were described as “specialized training techniques.”

“The Horse in the video was being subject [sic] to specialized training techniques as it had severe behavioral issues that had been proven difficult to remedy. It suffered no permanent injuries as a result of the techniques being used,” said Mee.

“Ms. Boston was undertaking legitimate horse training work on behalf of a client and did not have any intention of harming, abusing, or neglecting any animals. There was never any proof that any animal was actually injured in the video,” Mee explained.

The letter went on saying: “The article stated that Geneva Boston Repeatedly [sic] Jerked [sic] the lead line attached to an iron halter. The halter was aluminum and Boston was not ‘jerking’ on the lead.”

Equestrian Media Group also rebuffed the assertion that Boston was not jerking on the lead line, as repeatedly seen in the video.

“Ms. Boston is seen clearly jerking the lead line on the video, and using such a description is more than reflective. As far as iron halters, EMG spoke to numerous experts who showed examples of this, but iron or aluminum appears to be irrelevant. EMG can include Ms. Boston’s claim that the halter was aluminum and not iron in future reporting,” said Turk.

Boston’s attorney also struck back at this publication, disputing reporting about her involvement with PNW Horse Sales and self-described horse kill-buyer Donald Nowlin.

Nowlin is also the subject of a civil lawsuit that has garnered significant attention in Washington State for allegedly killing a horse after it was purchased from him. Nowlin lost the case in arbitration but appealed. The case has faced years of delays due to COVID, and more recently the pending opinion on a technical aspect of the case by the Washington State Court of Appeals.

Just yesterday, the court ultimately ruled that the plaintiff’s claim for certain damages against Nowlin could proceed, reversing the lower court’s ruling. The case is now likely to be set for trial.

“The September 8th article goes on to make numerous false and unfounded statements
exaggerating Boston’s involvement with PNW horse sales [sic] and an individual named Donald Nowlin. Geneva Boston only rode one horse at auction on behalf of another seller. She was never employed by PNW Horse sales and she never sold any horses through the auction.”

Turk’s reply on behalf of Equestrian Media Group then said: “EMG has been able to document and interview numerous individuals who have provided details as to the nature and changes in the relationship between Ms. Boston and Mr. Nowlin over several years.”

“Mr. Nowlin also publicly admitted the horse depicted in the video belonged to him, confirming that Ms. Boston had an ongoing relationship with Mr. Nowlin.”

Not only did PNW Horse Sales not appear to engage in proper employment practices based on information obtained from numerous sources, but it was confirmed with the Oregon Dept. of Business & Consumer Services that the company never once even had workers’ compensation insurance as required by Oregon law.

Equestrian Media Group also previously reported uncovering that Nowlin was illegally concealing his ownership interest in the company– all while the owner on paper, Tommie Reevs, publically claimed on numerous occasions that Nowlin was not involved in the ownership or even the operations of the company.

PNW Horse Sales promptly announced its closure after learning that Equestrian Media Group intended to report on findings that the company’s auctioneer was a wanted felon for horse theft in Louisana and possibly other states.

The ruse was reportedly intended to dispel public concerns about the auction’s integrity, especially since Nowlin sold many horses through the company’s auctions under an unregistered Washington State company known as Bar 4 Ranch. Nowlin has previously been the subject of allegations of retail tax fraud by not charging or remitting WA sales taxes with commercial business transactions.

Equestrian Media Group previously uncovered records first obtained from the Oregon Department of Agriculture that Nowlin was also using the bogus company to conceal his ties to horses being shipped between States.

Officials in Washington State later said they would investigate the matter as a licensed veterinarian, Dr. Kalie Mercer, issued the health certificates for Nowlin’s bogus company. However, a Washington State official also explained that veterinarians often rely on the information presented by owners and consignees about a horse when issuing a CVI, but did admit that veterinarians may want to consider verifying businesses before issuing certificates under their name.

When reached for comment back in September of last year about the issuance of CVI’s under the bogus business Mercer said: “I’m not interested in commenting on any of this. Thank you, though.”

Nowlin was also found during the criminal investigation into Boston to be making calls pretending to be an unnamed reporter with Equestrian Media Group and making unfounded and scandalous allegations against multiple women who were known witnesses or complainants against Boston.

Nowlin’s conduct raised questions about potential charges of witness tampering.

In the letter from Boston’s attorney, Mee also disputed Equestrian Media Group’s reporting, which mirrored that of The Canyon Weekly and other news publications, that the district attorney declined the case due to an uncooperative witness was “extremely likely to be false.

“If the DA did not file charges, it was because they felt there was not [sic] probable cause or sufficient evidence to support the charge,” said Mee.

Mee’s claim was rebuffed by multiple indirect statements made by Marion County Deputy District Attorney Brendan Murphy.

Not only did Murphy confirm that the case was dropped due to an uncooperative witness in an October 3rd, 2023 email to Equestrian Media Group, but he also went on to explain that a subpoena was considered. Still, he explained the consideration of the difficulty with an out-of-state witness, who was later reported to be Nowlin himself.

According to The Canyon Weekly, Murphy also said that a key witness was out of state and “unwilling to cooperate with the prosecution.”

Murphy also confirmed the same in a mid-October email to Jessica Parker, a now estranged friend of Boston’s who was one of the early sources of complaints against Boston for horse abuse. Murphy explained that the evidence standard required that the person who initially received the self-recorded video from Boston, which Nowlin also admitted to being, would have to testify.

Nowlin also said he would never cooperate with police against Boston in a recorded phone conversation with one of the complainants.

In the closing of the letter on Boston’s behalf sent to Equestrian Media Group, Mee stated: “Ms. Boston demands that all articles containing factually erroneous references to her court appearances, her ‘charges’, her ‘abuse’ of a horse, and her ‘heavy involvement’ are removed immediately and a retraction is published by Northwest horse [sic] report [sic].”

“If you do not comply within 14 days of receiving this letter, Geneva Boston will be forced to exercise all legal options available to her, including pursuing actions for defamation of character, libel, slander, harassment, and negligent inflection of emotional distress,” said Mee.

Despite the 14-day warning in the legal threat letter from Boston’s attorney being dated November 7th, 2023, no legal action appeared to have been taken between that date and January 4th, 2024, when Equestrian Media Group’s attorney mailed our response.

“Simply put, there is no legal basis for any of your claims due to the truth of the statements in EMG’s publications and various press protections under the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” said Turk on behalf of Equestrian Media Group in its reply letter.

“There are no legal grounds for your claims, and any lawsuit for defamation, harassment, and/or negligent infliction of emotional distress will be quickly disposed. EMG reserves all rights to seek attorneys’ fees from Geneva Boston in the event of meritless litigation.”

Equestrian Media Group would promptly file a motion to dismiss on any such potential legal claim under what is known as Anti-SLAPP laws. These laws often function by allowing a defendant to promptly file a motion to strike or dismiss the case on the grounds that the case involves protected speech on a matter of public concern.

As of press time, it did not appear that Boston has filed any suit against this publication, its reporters, or any other media publication or journalist. No response to the reply letter from Equestrian Media Group’s attorney has been received.

If you’d like to help Equestrian Media Group with potential legal defense costs or other battles related to public records which we strive to obtain for our readers, please visit this link:

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