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Speed skater Bridie Farrell says she was sexually abused by a much older skater, with some of the assaults occurring in Lake Placid and Saratoga Springs (Photo:  Milwaukee Public Radio)
Speed skater Bridie Farrell says she was sexually abused by a much older skater, with some of the assaults occurring in Lake Placid and Saratoga Springs (Photo: Milwaukee Public Radio)

Sex abuse charge rocks US speedskating

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Correction: NCPR mistakenly reported that Andy Gabel resigned as president of the US Speedskating federation because of the accusations leveled against him. In fact, Gabel left that post in 2010. He resigned from US Speedskating's Hall of Fame committee following the public charges. We regret the error.

Two top women athletes are accusing the former president of US Speedskating of sexual abuse in the 1990s.

The charges were first leveled by Bridie Farrell, a skater from Wisconsin, who says she was fifteen years old when the abuse occurred. Farrell says some of the sexual assault occurred during training sessions in Lake Placid and Saratoga Springs. A second skater has since come forward, claiming that she, too, was assaulted.

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Former Olympican Andy Gabel has acknowledged "inappropriate relationships" and stepped down as head of US Speedskating.  (Photo: US Speedskating)
Former Olympican Andy Gabel has acknowledged "inappropriate relationships" and stepped down as head of US Speedskating. (Photo: US Speedskating)
"I was sexually abused by another skater who was 33," said Farrell, "and the impacts lasted for years and still to this day. This is unfortunately way more prevalent that we want to accept."

The man accused of the assaults, four-time Olympian Andy Gabel, was thirty-three years old when the abuse allegedly occurred.

Gabel, a former president of the US Speedskating association until 2010, resigned his position on the organization's hall of fame committee, after the charges were made public.

"He proceeded to push me down over the footboard onto his bed and jumped on top of me and I was just in shock," Farrell said. "I couldn't believe what he was doing.  I was shocked and confused immediately.  I proceeded to try to push him off and said No this isn't why I came and he kept saying over and over You know this is why you came to my room."

He proceeded to push me down...onto his bed and jumped on top of me and I was just in shock.
Gabel has acknowledged an "inappropriate" relationship and resigned his senior post with the speed skating Federation. But in a statement, Gabel, who was in his thirties when the alleged assaults occurred, denied that the relationships amounted to sexual abuse.

"I want to emphasize, there was no incident of any abuse ever. I never forced myself on any individual and any allegations of that nature are absolutely false. Any relationship I had was consentual [sic]. Looking back on it now, I understand that my conduct nearly 20 years ago, and longer, was* *still inappropriate. I've apologized publically[sic]  for that and I am sorry for crossing that line. I understand that inappropriateness more than ever now."

Gabel has stepped down from the US Speedskating federation's hall of fame committee, but said in a statement that the relationship was consensual.

The story was broken last month by Mitch Teich, a former reporter with North Country Public Radio who is now executive producer and co-host of the program "Lake Effect" at Milwaukee Public Radio. Teich spoke in-depth about the case with our Adirondack bureau chief, Brian Mann for our news program "The 8 O'clock Hour." To hear that conversation, click on "listen."

 

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