Victim of child abuse: Former U.S. speed skater Bridie Farrell voices her support of the Child Victims Act.
Bridie Farrell: I felt like I had nowhere to go when a U.S. Speed Skating trainer attempted to sexually assault a teammate, then tried to sexually assault me, too, after I intervened
The sleaze of sexual abuse of minors in competitive sports and entertainment exposed as advocates push for the passage of the NY Child Abuse Law
Ex-Olympian, Bridie Farrell says she felt like she had nowhere to go when a U.S. Speed Skating trainer attempted to sexually assault a teammate, then tried to sexually assault her, too, after she intervened.
Farrell, 34, says she wasn’t comfortable reporting the assaults to U.S Speed Skating officials because Andy Gabel, then the president of the sport’s governing body, sexually abused her repeatedly several years earlier, in 1997 and 1998.
“He held the power,” Farrell said of Gabel during a press conference Tuesday in support passage of the Child Victims Act, a bill that would eliminate the statute of limitations on sex abuse cases in New York and open up a one-year window for victims of past sexual abuse to file civil suits. “The president always has more power than an athlete.”
Photo: Jefferson Siegel/NewYorkDailyNews
Bridie Farrell, a former speedskater, has accused Olympian speedskater Andy Gabel of molesting her when she was 15.
Farrell, who now lives in New York, has become a powerful advocate for reforming New York law, which bars victims from filing criminal charges or pursuing civil litigation after their 23rd birthdays.
Her voice crackled with emotion as she told lawmakers, victim advocates and other sexual abuse survivors that she struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts years after Gabel, an Olympian who won dozens of medals in international competitions, abused her when he was 15 and he was 33.
“I thought about jumping in front of the 125th St. Metro North,” Farrell said. “I thought about jumping out of the third-floor window of my apartment.”
Farrell broke her silence in 2013, when she told a reporter from Minnesota Public Radio about the abuse. Then-U.S. Speed Skating chief executive officer Scott Blackmun, she says, urged her to report the abuse to law-enforcement officials in New York. But the statute of limitations on her case had expired years ago.
“So here I stand,” Farrell says. “The five-year statute of limitations provides only an illusion of security.”
Farrell said Gabel, who was a teammate, and not her coach, became extremely controlling during the period in which he abused her. He refused to let her eat much beyond carrot sticks and saltine crackers, she says, and only allowed her to go to a high school dance if she returned home as soon as it was over and called him immediately.
Former Olympic Skater and one time president of the US skating body, Andy Gabel Snared in the Underage Sex Scandal. Farrell (below) alleges he abused her when she was a 15-year-old. Gabel was then 33 years old
Photo: Jefferson Siegel/NewYorkDailyNews
Former U.S. speed skater Bridie Farrell – a sexual assault victim – voices her support of the Child Victims Act.
Gabel acknowledged in 2013 that he had a “brief, inappropriate relationship” with a female teammate but said it did not include sex. Farrell has said that they did not have intercourse but he did fondle her and penetrate her with his fingers.
Gabel resigned from the International Skating Union and U.S. Speed Skating shortly after Farrell publicly accused him of sexual abuse.
Farrell said she didn’t tell anybody about the abuse because she feared it would jeopardize her speed skating career. Gabel was not just a legendary competitor- he was a person who wielded tremendous clout in the small, insular world of American speed skating.
“What would I tell my parents? she says? “Who would believe me?”
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