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andy gabel second speed skater nikki ziegelmeyer accuses olympic medalist of rape at age of 15

andy gabel second speed skater nikki ziegelmeyer accuses olympic medalist of rape at age of 15

access_time March 8, 2013 chat_bubble_outline 0 comments
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  • Andy Gabel, Olympic silver medalist in 1994, is now accused of having sex with two 15-year-olds during the 1990s
  • Nikki Ziegelmeyer claims her sexual contact with Gabel was non-consensual
  • Bridie Farrell, also a speedskater, said she knew from the beginning that the relationship was inappropriate
  • Gabel also served as president of U.S. Speedskating

By
Daily Mail Reporter


PUBLISHED:

19:20 EST, 8 March 2013



|

UPDATED:

01:45 EST, 9 March 2013

A second former U.S. speedskater is now accusing Olympic medalist and former U.S. Speedskating president Andy Gabel of sexual abuse saying he raped her when she was 15.

Nikki Meyer, known as Nikki Ziegelmeyer when skating short track for the U.S. in the 1992 and `94 Olympics, today joins former speedskater Bridie Farrell’s claims of sexual abuse by the then president while aged 15.

Both women say Gabel, a four-time Olympian who won a silver medal in Lillehammer, aggressively approached them in the 90s while training for the Olympics.

In Meyer’s case it led to non-consensual sex, she told the Associated Press on Friday.

Accusers: Former short track speedskater Nikki Ziegelmeyer, seen left in 1994, and Bridie Farrell have accused Olympic medalist and former U.S. Speedskating president Andy Gabel of sexual contact when 15

Resigned: Andy Gabel has resigned from his positions with the U.S. speedskating committee and offered a public apology after the first allegations of sexual abuse arose

Resigned: Andy Gabel has resigned from his positions with the U.S. speedskating committee and offered a public apology after the first allegations of sexual abuse arose

Meyer, who retired from skating after injuring herself in 1997, won a relay silver medal at the Albertville Games and a bronze in the same Lillehammer event as Gabel.

On Monday Gabel stepped down from his speedskating position and his leadership role with the International Skating Union after Farrell’s shocking accusations last week.

Farrell said Gabel was 33 at the time of their sexual relationship. She was just 15.

Responding to her accusations Gabel issued an apology in a public statement saying he ‘displayed poor judgment in a brief and inappropriate relationship with a female teammate,’ according to the The Saratogian newspaper in Saratoga Springs, NY.

Gabel did not immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment.

Farrell told public radio station WUWM in Milwaukee that she had sexual contact with Gabel repeatedly over several months in 1997 and 1998 while both were training in New York and Michigan.

Abuse? Bridie Farrell, seen last week, said that she had sexual contact with Gabel repeatedly over several months in 1997 and 1998 while both were training in New York and Michigan

Farrell recently returned to speedskating after a six-year absence and is making a long-shot bid for a spot on the U.S. team that will compete at the Sochi Games next year. She failed in three previous bids to qualify for the Olympics.

The national governing body had said that it was not previously aware of any allegations against Gabel until Meyer’s on Friday.

‘Our current understanding is that it was not reported to anyone at U.S. Speedskating or the authorities at that time,’ the organization said in a statement.

‘We intend to look into this matter immediately to determine what action should be taken.’

Farrell’s lawyer, Jon Little, said the abuse began when Farrell and Gabel were training at the same club in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

According to Little, Gabel began paying a lot of attention to Farrell. He would let her drive his car, for instance, and he also sharpened her skates.

‘She’s star struck,’ Little said, describing her state of mind at the time.

Regret: 'I wish I had said something the day that it happened,' Farrell said. 'And if that person didn't believe me, that I told somebody else, and somebody else, until someone listened'

Regret: ‘I wish I had said something the day that it happened,’ Farrell said. ‘And if that person didn’t believe me, that I told somebody else, and somebody else, until someone listened’

There was no immediate comment from the ISU. But International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams said, ‘Clearly, any allegations of such a serious nature need to be fully investigated.’

In any event, they represent another setback to a powerhouse U.S. Olympic sport, coming after a sexual abuse scandal in swimming.

Dozens of coaches have been accused of abusing underage swimmers, including a former national team director, prompting USA Swimming to adopt a ‘safe sport’ program and go public with a list of everyone who has received a lifetime ban from the organization.

Farrell’s allegations are somewhat different in that the abuse allegedly began while she and Gabel were both still competing.

But Little said it follows much the same pattern of what happened in swimming: a mentorlike figure taking advantage of a young athlete.

The statute of limitations for a lawsuit has expired, Little said, so there are no plans to pursue legal action.

Champion: Andy Gabel (center) is a four-time, short track speedskating U.S. Olympian and holds a silver medal as a member of the 1994 5000 meter Short Track relay team. He is accused of having sex with Bridie Farrell when she was 15 and he was 33

Champion: Andy Gabel (center) is a four-time, short track speedskating U.S. Olympian and holds a silver medal as a member of the 1994 5000 meter Short Track relay team

He said Farrell decided to come
forward because she wants to change the culture of Olympic sports in the
U.S., something he described as a ‘good old boys network.’

‘They
see their coaches sleeping with girls,’ Little said. ‘When they become a
coach. … (they) get access to sexual relationships with young, fit
teenage girls – and it’s just part of the culture. Everybody thinks
that’s OK.’

In her interview with WUWM, Farrell said she knew from the beginning that her relationship with Gabel was inappropriate.

‘I knew that because he made it be a secret,’ she said. ‘But I will say that the 15-year-old thought it was exciting.’

Farrell said she didn’t tell anyone what had happened for years.

‘The first five to seven years after it happened, I was scared,’ she told the radio station. ‘I was petrified, because I was young and in speedskating, and I was knocking on the door to the junior national team, then the senior national team, and I didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize that.

Hopes: Farrell (circled) recently returned to speedskating after a six-year absence and is making a long-shot bid for a spot on the U.S. team that will compete at the 2014 Games. She failed in three previous bids to qualify for the Olympics

Hopes: Farrell (circled) recently returned to speedskating after a six-year absence and is making a long-shot bid for a spot on the U.S. team that will compete at the 2014 Games. She failed in three previous bids to qualify for the Olympics

Connected: Andy Gabel (center) demonstrates the ticket-buying process for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City as Organizing Committee president Mitt Romney (right) looks on

Connected: Andy Gabel (center) demonstrates the ticket-buying process for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City as Organizing Committee president Mitt Romney (right) looks on

‘Then,’ she added, ‘there was a period of my life when I didn’t say anything because I realized I was hurt, and I was broken.

‘And it took a long time and a lot of work and some pretty dark times to come to grips with it and put myself together.’

‘I wanted to be close and real with friends in skating, but there was this big secret and there was this big part I wasn’t disclosing,’ she said. ‘And in order for me to be honest and truly be friends with these people, I needed to be able to say, “This is a huge thing I’m battling.”‘

Farrell said her biggest regret is waiting so long to come forward.

‘I wish I had said something the day that it happened,’ she said. ‘And if that person didn’t believe me, that I told somebody else, and somebody else, until someone listened.’

Thanks to Pat A Robinson Photos

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