published Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Women say Walker County horseshoeing teacher propositioned, hit them

  • photo
    Ralph Casey watches Doodle as he walks on an equine treadmill at the Farrier's National Research Center in LaFayette, Ga.
    Photo by Staff File Photo.
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Jillian Myers, 20, wanted to learn horseshoeing and thought Casey and Son Horseshoeing School in rural Walker County, Ga., would be the best choice.

So she saved her money for more than a year and drove five hours from South Carolina to study there this summer.

She said her excitement turned to terror, though, when the school's 68-year-old founder and owner, Ralph Casey, drunkenly propositioned her in sexually explicit language at 12:30 a.m. on Aug. 4.

"I was really scared and thought he might try to assault me. I went inside, locked my door and slept with my knife for protection," Myers wrote in a statement that's been distributed to law enforcement authorities.

Myers is one of three young women who allege Casey has propositioned or punched them.

Casey dismisses the allegations.

"These kids are [ticked] off because I threw them out of school," he said. "They get down there, and they think they can party, and when you kick them out you've got problems."

Casey is due to appear on Dec. 17 before Walker County Chief Magistrate Sheila Thompson on a misdemeanor charge of simple assault against Bonnie Whisant, 22, of Whittier, N.C.

Whisant said she's a graduate of the school who went back in mid-October for its horseshoeing convention. At 1 a.m. on Oct. 14, she said, Casey started swearing at her and assaulted her.

"He hit me once," she said. "I punched him back. He hit me three times more, and I fell sideways into a post."

She said she has a witness as well as a medical report of the bruises she said she got from three strikes to the face and one on the shoulder.

Whisant said she had refused earlier that day to let Casey pick her up from behind while she was sitting on a post.

Casey said he didn't hit Whisant.

"I just threw my arm up," he said, to ward off a blow. "All I did was hold my hand up. She fell and busted her rump. She claimed I hit her."

Shelley Brown, 18, of Gloucester, Va., said Casey made a number of inappropriate verbal and physical advances, starting on her second day of school.

It culminated at 3 a.m. on Aug. 4 when she said a drunken Casey came into her bunkhouse room holding a beer and said "If I didn't take my clothes off and parade around for [him], he was going to kick me out of school."

Brown was supposed to attend school for another three weeks, but said she found it impossible to continue.

Casey said he kicked Brown out for underage drinking and that she'd thrown up all over the dormitory.

He's going to stop accepting female students who are under 21, Casey said.

"I've had it with them," he said. "I never have no problems with the grown women."

Christina Myers, who is Jillian Myers' mother, has provided statements from all three women to Georgia's Nonpublic Post Secondary Education Commission, which confirmed it is investigating them.

"I don't care if his school continues -- but he shouldn't have anything to do with it," said Myers, who wants criminal charges brought against Casey in her daughter's case.

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6651.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.

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