The allegations centered around a former Football Coach Barry Bennell who worked for the following clubs:
It has been reported in the National Press that he has also worked for other junior clubs in the North and Midlands. Since that time, it is reported that there are over 83 potential suspects into sexual abuse in football, historical in nature. The scale is alarming.
This year, Kit Carson- a well-known football coach who worked with Norwich, Peterborough and Cambridge- was charged with sexual offences against 11 boys between 1978 and 2009. This is just another element of an evolving story that involves hundreds of clubs and coaches and thousands of victims. Every two days, on average 5 victims have come forward. To put this scandal in scale, 285 coaches have now been accused of sexual abuse: the abuse scandal that rocked the Catholic Church in Boston and the rest of the United States implicated 249 priests. That scandal was of such significance it led to a feature film dedicated to its discovery.
Further, the crown court at Liverpool sentenced Barry Bennell- one of Britain’s most prolific paedophiles- to 30 years in prison for hundreds of sexual offences against almost one hundred victims which amounted to an act of “sheer evil” according to Clement Goldstone, QC. Mr Gladstone made reference to the "trail of psychological devastation" left by Barry Bennell’s actions, and the testimony of his victims talks at great length about the depression, anxiety addiction and suicidal thoughts they experienced following their abuse. Individuals that experience sexual abuse are significantly more likely to self-harm or to possess suicidal thoughts than members of the general populace, and so victims of such abuse often refer to themselves as “survivors”.
Unprecedented Footballers Who Have Been Abused
The allegations of football child abuse claims have now generated an unprecedented demand for advice and support by the Children's charity NSPCC to help football child abuse victims who have reported:
- 50 calls within the first 2 hours of opening
- 860 calls in the first week.
The historic sexual abuse came to gather publicity when on 16 November when Andy Woodward a former Sheffield United player had the courage to informed the Guardian Newspaper about the sexual abuse by a Crewe football Coach Barry Bennell whilst he was a youth academy player. Not long after that story was published Ex-Crewe Football Player Steve Walters and former Liverpool FC player Paul Stewart spoke out about their experiences.
Now more than 20 players have approached the Football Association (Football's Governing Body) to consider their position into these shocking allegations, to help with the investigations and support those victims who have been sexually abused whilst being coached as a child with Professional and Grass Roots football Clubs.
Criminal Investigations Into Football Child Sexual Abuse
It is a criminal offence to have a sexual relationship with a child who is under the age of 18 years. In the context of football, there is the added dimension of the position of trust between the club, its employees and the young academy players. Safeguarding young football players against any type of abuse is paramount.
The law provides a clear duty of care upon the club to provide a safe environment for young players and if any employees (including managers & coaches) sexually abuse children in their care, the club can be held responsible for any football child abuse compensation claim and the abuser can also face severe criminal charges.
The fact that the football child abuse occurred many years ago is not a bar to making a claim for compensation or for the police to press charges. Even if the abuser has died it does not prevent an investigation by the Police and to make a claim.
Boys Less Likely To Speak Out About Sexual Abuse
A survey by the NSPCC reveals that boys are less likely than girls to speak out about being a victim of child sexual abuse. Where this has been reported and gender is known:-
- 16% of counselling sessions about sexual abuse were with boys
- compared to 84% with girls
Football Academies are male dominant and traditionally it is difficult for young boys to speak out and talk and share with others about their experiences. Often keeping silent, tormenting themselves into later life causing tremendous stress and depression.
Football Child Abuse Compensation Claims
If you or someone you know has been affected by this story and want to seek advice about how to start the investigations against the Football Club, Football Coach or Sports Governing Body the Football Association please contact our specialist Solicitor Mr Ronnie Hutcheon who will can offer sympathetic expert advice and guidance.
In addition to getting to the truth, a civil compensation payment for the sexual abuse can be claimed, perhaps an apology or helping others often will benefit the victim and help rebuild their life. Specialist Counselling, education and training may also be obtained.
Why Contact The Football Child Abuse Claim Solicitors?
We are a niche practice offering a specialist and broad experience in dealing with complex and demanding cases. When it comes to football child abuse claims our Solicitor Ronnie Hutcheon offers a greater insight that most lawyers due to the following experiences:
- A qualified and registered football agent/football intermediary.
- Specialist in personal injury and psychiatric harm compensation claims.
- Qualified with the Football Association - Football Badges (Level 2).
- Qualified with the Football Association - Youth Coaching Badges (Level 2).
- Masters Degree - Sports Law.
- Grass roots football coach
The experience gain in football means that we are placed in a privilege position to understand how football coaches who have abused young child footballers have used the system to perpetrate their crime.
Ronnie Hutcheon, our solicitor has said:
We understand it is difficult to call and make that first step of the journey to seek justice and that may ease some of the guilt and hurt. But one call is all it takes and you will be supported by our team who are dedicated to help you.
Sexual Abuse Cases - The Investigations
As an increasing number of sexual abuse cases both historic and current come to light across a range of fields- from football, to gymnastics, to film, to music, to government- the government is increasingly cracking down to protect children, but what about the children they didn’t protect? The ones that slipped through the cracks historically and now have to live under the cloud of sexual abuse?
Increasingly, people are speaking out about historic abuse, with the high-profile scandals bringing a better understanding that sexual abuse in childhood is not something to be ashamed of, and is not in any way the fault of the victim.
Due to the nature of sexual abuse, survivors often suppress memories and emotions relating to the event. This means that a legal case is not brought against the perpetrator until many years later, by which time evidence may have been lost, witnesses may have died, and the validity of victim’s testimony will come under increased scrutiny from the court.
The courts do have some sympathy for the delay that suppression of memories can cause: a claim only being brought after a perpetrator’s abuse has been widely advertised does not make the claim unreliable. However, in some cases the usual rules as to limitation apply, if the judge reasonably believes that testimony is being brought falsely in order to create a claim for damages. Fraudulent claims have “no place” in the courts, and claimants that bring baseless or unfounded claims will be treated harshly by judges. The standard of proof required in sexual abuse cases is high: the more serious the allegations, the higher the standard of proof.
The case of A v Hoare provides the current standard for how quickly claims for historic sexual abuse must be brought to court. It had previously held that the countdown to limitation began from the date the claimant knew that they had been injured by historic abuse, as per section 14 of the Limitation Act. However, the A v Hoare case held that limitation would not apply if the claimant was “able to say that he would not reasonably have turned his mind to litigation more than three years earlier”. Therefore, if you did not realise that that your abuse could entitle you to compensation until 3 years ago- or even maybe following the Guardian’s first interview with one of Bennell’s victims, breaking the story in this county- then you are still entitled to make a claim.
One of the factors that may have stopped victims from making a claim is the fact that clubs have covered up the evidence needed to bring a prosecution. Both Crewe and Manchester City have been accused of ignoring signs that Bennell was a predatory paedophile, and silencing victims: Bennell was finding them star footballers, and so it was in their interest to keep victims quiet. This fact, combined with the suppression of memories that follows sexual abuse, provides a clear explanation for why it takes so long for these claims to come to light.
Any victim that makes an allegation of any sexual offence is entitled to lifelong anonymity: their identity is completely protected by statute so there is no public exposure. That means no paparazzi at the door, no stares from strangers, no awkward conversations with old friends: complete anonymity. If needed, victims giving evidence can be screened from their abusers to protect their identity. Whilst many of Bennell’s victims chose to come forward- including Andy Woodward, Steve Walters, Gary Cliffe, and Micky Fallon- dozens more maintained their anonymity when delivering evidence. There are multiple victims of hundreds of coaches that have not been named in the UK press, but are still pursuing legal action. You do not have to go public: only you can choose who to tell about what happened, if anyone. If you think you have no one that will understand, the NSPCC have a dedicated helpline that you can call: 0800 023 2642. You don’t have to suffer in silence.
In the Criminal Courts, predators with multiple victims are treated more harshly in terms of sentencing. As seen in the case of R v Wormleighton, sexual abuse need not be penetrative to warrant a claim. If you believe that you have been sexually abused in the past, by a football coach or otherwise, in any way, you may be entitled to compensation for the psychological damage this has caused. The impact of sexual abuse experienced in youth is life long, and can be devastating. The fact that a criminal case has failed against an abuser does not automatically mean that a civil case cannot proceed: the burden of proof is lower in matters of personal injury. However, it should be noted that most successful claims for compensation are built upon a successful criminal prosecution: if your abuser has been cleared by the criminal courts, talk to us on 0151 724 7121 to discuss whether we will be able to bring a civil action on your behalf. All calls are confidential and free.
The victims of sexual abuse are more likely to become abusers of drugs and alcohol, but not if they get the correct treatment: charities are working hard to help those in need of counselling, anti-depressants, and support. One of the biggest providers of “closure” for victims of sexual abuse is seeing their abusers brought to justice. To this end, some progress is being made: the police are conducting Operation Hydrant into historic and ongoing sexual abuse in sport, the FA are extensively reviewing historic abuse allegations up until around 2005, and even Manchester City- who were closely linked with Bennell- are setting up their own inquiry into any role they played in Bennell’s crimes. Disappointingly, Crewe will not be opening any inquiries with regards to this matter. Combined, these enquiries will find out many more paedophiles that operated in, and continue to operate in, clubs nationwide.
Hopefully, as the police and judicial enquiries build momentum, more abusers will be found and prosecuted, allowing victims to finally move on from their past. Victims deserve compensation: for the abuse, for the psychological torment, and for the lifelong devastation these events can have when they occur in childhood. If you have been abused in the past, or are being abused today, you can take control of your life, by helping the police put these “monsters” behind bars, and getting yourself the compensation you deserve. Don’t suffer in silence.
Cases (In Order of Appearance):
O v Liverpool City Council (Quantum)  5 Q.R. 5;
- v Smolinski (Mark Paul)  EWCA Crim 1270;
- v MacKreth (Kenneth Tom)  EWCA Crim 1849;
- v B (Brian S)  EWCA Crim 319;
- v Sutton (Richard Keith)  EWCA Crim 190;
- v W  EWCA Crim 693;
Re: H and Others (Minors)  2 WLR 8;
A v Hoare  UKHL 6;
- v Forbes  EWCA Crim 1388;
- v Wormleighton  EWCA Crim 815;
R v King  EWCA Crim 1584;
Re: L (Children) (Fact-Finding: Appeal)  EWCA Civ 525;
Wigan BC v M and 8 others (Sexual Abuse: Fact-Finding)  EWFC 6;
BBC News - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news
British and Irish Legal Information Institute - http://www.bailii.org/
Crewe Alexandra Football Club - https://www.crewealex.net/
Legislation.Gov - http://www.legislation.gov.uk/
Lexis Nexis - https://www.lexisnexis.com/en-us/gateway.page
Manchester City Football Club - https://www.mancity.com/
Mind - https://www.mind.org.uk/
The Boston Globe - https://www.bostonglobe.com/
The FA - http://www.thefa.com/
The Guardian - https://www.theguardian.com/uk
The National Police Chief’s Council - http://www.npcc.police.uk/
The New York Times - https://www.nytimes.com/
The NSPCC - https://www.nspcc.org.uk/
The Offside Trust - http://www.theoffsidetrust.com/who-we-are/
The Telegraph - https://www.telegraph.co.uk/
Westlaw - https://legalresearch.westlaw.co.uk/
 O v Liverpool City Council (Quantum)  5 Q.R. 5;
 R. v Smolinski (Mark Paul)  EWCA Crim 1270;
 R. v MacKreth (Kenneth Tom)  EWCA Crim 1849;
 R. v B (Brian S)  EWCA Crim 319;
 R. v Sutton (Richard Keith)  EWCA Crim 190;
 R. v W  EWCA Crim 693;
 Re: H and Others (Minors)  2 WLR 8;
 A v Hoare  UKHL 6;
 R. v Forbes  EWCA Crim 1388;
 R. v Wormleighton  EWCA Crim 815;
 R v King  EWCA Crim 1584;
 Re: L (Children) (Fact-Finding: Appeal)  EWCA Civ 525;
 Wigan BC v M and 8 others (Sexual Abuse: Fact-Finding)  EWFC 6;
 R. v Sutton (Richard Keith)  EWCA Crim 190;
Further Reading on Football Child Sex Abuse Claims
Help & Advice Child Sex Abuse Claims
APAC (the National Association for People Abused in Childhood)
Tel support line: 0808 801 0331 (free from UK landlines or mobiles and is totally confidential).
The UK’s leading national charity offering support to adult survivors of all types of childhood abuse, including physical, sexual and emotional abuse and neglect.
NSPCC Football Hotline: 0800 023 2642
The hotline will be available 24 hours a day.
The FA, reporting concerns...
Reporting a concern about a child is everyone’s responsibility – here’s how you do it.
Tel: 01273 911 680
Provides one-to-one counselling, therapeutic groups and couple counselling to men (age 18+) who have experienced sexual abuse at any time in their lives.
Tel: 020 3598 3898
Support for men who have been raped or sexually abused. Also provides webchat, face-to-face counselling and support groups in the London area.
HAVOCA (Help for Adult Victims of Child Abuse)
Provides information to any adult who is suffering from past childhood abuse. Website includes survivors' forum.
Adult helpline: 0844 847 7879
Under 18s helpline: 0808 802 0808
Telephone counselling for survivors of sexual abuse and those supporting survivors.
One in four
Advocacy service, counselling service (available over skype and in several languages) and information for people who have experienced sexual abuse.
The Lantern Project
Help and support for survivors of sexual abuse. Information library on website, and survivors' online forum.
The Survivors Trust
UK network of support organisations for survivors of rape, sexual violence and childhood sexual abuse. Offers extensive information resources plus details of your local specialist.
Confidential 24 hour helpline: 0808 800 5000
Telephone helpline for children and young people: 0800 1111