Wednesday 13 December 2017

Ex-England stars reveal sex abuse by club coaches

Ex-footballer Paul Stewart. Photo: PA
Ex-footballer Paul Stewart. Photo: PA

Kim Pilling

Eleven people, including two former England internationals, have come forward to police in the wake of revelations about sexual abuse in football.

Former players David White, Paul Stewart and Andy Woodward have all revealed they were abused by football coaches as children.

Former England, Liverpool and Tottenham player Stewart waived his anonymity in an interview with the Daily Mirror, after ex-Sheffield United player Woodward revealed that he was abused by coach Barry Bennell at Crewe Alexandra.

Former England and Manchester City star White became the latest top footballer to reveal he was also a victim of child sex abuse by jailed former coach Bennell.

White (49) told the BBC he was sexually abused by Bennell in the late 70s and early 80s while playing for Whitehill FC junior team in Manchester.

He said: "Given recent press stories, I wish to confirm that I was sexually abused by my former football coach Barry Bennell in the late 70s and early 80s - this abuse took place while I was attached to Whitehill FC junior team based in Manchester."

The news of potential further cases came as the NSPCC announced it had set up a dedicated helpline for victims of abuse within football, with the support of the Football Association (FA).

Detective Inspector Sarah Hall, of Cheshire Police public protection unit, said last night: "As of today... we have now been made aware of a number of people who have come forward wishing to speak to the police.

"At this stage, we are in the process of making contact with them, and to date no arrests have been made and no one else is under investigation."

Stewart (52) alleges he was repeatedly sexually assaulted by a man who threatened to kill his family if he spoke out.

He claimed other boys were also abused by the same man.

Stewart told the Daily Mirror: "The mental scars led me into other problems with drink and drugs. I know now it was a grooming process. The level of abuse got worse and worse."

He added that if he was not playing well then the trainer would threaten him with violence as well as sexual abuse.

The claims by the former FA Cup winner with Spurs follow Woodward's interview with the Guardian in which he said he suffered at the hands of Bennell between the ages of 11 and 15.

Bennell was jailed for nine years in 1998 after pleading guilty to sexual offences.

In his interview, Woodward said: "My life has been ruined until the age of 43, but how many others are there?

"I'm talking about hundreds of children who Barry Bennell cherry-picked for various football teams and who now, as adults, might still be living with that awful fear."

Irish Independent

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