New York’s Statute of Limitations Reform Can Help Survivors

Bridie Farrell never regretted coming forward about her childhood sexual abuse. Deciding to tell her story was almost an impulse. And even though she says the resulting attention wasn’t as bad as staying quiet, it doesn’t mean speaking out was easy.

Something that made speaking out even harder was the fact that even if her abuser walked into the police station and admitted his acts right now, he can’t be legally held responsible for his crimes.

How is that possible?

Because in the state of New York, some crimes of child sexual abuse are still subject to an archaic statute of limitations (SOL) that forces victims to come forward before their 23rd birthday or lose all hope of justice.

That’s not just civil justice, either. Depending on the sexual assault, child predators who stay quiet for five years after their victims turn 18 can get off scot free.

Which is a lot to consider for any victim of child sexual abuse. However, unlike many survivors of childhood sexual abuse, Bridie Farrell was already in the spotlight. A competitive speedskater who had dropped out of the sport despite the promise of success only to return years later, she revealed the truth about her teammate Andy Gable during an on-air interview with NPR.

Her story was shared around the country and astute reporters linked it to a comment Gable had once made about having an inappropriate relationship with a teammate years before, making it all the more frustrating that she couldn’t take legal action.

So, why did she speak out?

To try and bring attention to the social consequences of staying quiet Bridie’s lent her voice in support of New York’s SOL reform that’s being voted on next week.

“Everyone says I’m strong and brave for speaking out. But at the root, it’s such a basic function to tell the truth. I’m still walking. I’m still able to succeed. But society is made worse by victims who are unable to disclose the truth.”

Bridie’s voice joins others who speak out in hopes of preventing future victims and creating an opportunity for adult survivors in the state of New York to finally seek justice.