UK football coach found guilty of 43 child sex abuse charges

FRENCH PRESS AGENCY - AFP
LONDON
Published

Disgraced former British youth coach Barry Bennell was found guilty Thursday of seven further counts of sexually abusing boys in a case that has shocked English football to its core.

Bennell, 64, was found guilty of indecent assault, buggery and attempted buggery against 11 victims -- all boys aged between eight and 15 -- in a complex trial in Liverpool in northwest England.

"Barry Bennell is a predatory paedophile who groomed and abused young boys who dreamed of a career in professional football," Jackie Lamb, from the Crown Prosecution Service, England's state prosecutors, said after the trial concluded.

Bennell had already been found guilty on 36 charges on Tuesday, bringing the number of convictions from the trial to 43.

Bennell's trial is part of wider allegations of sexual and physical abuse of boys at football clubs in Britain in the 1970s and 1980s by the very people who were supposed to nurture their budding careers.

Revelations about the abuse suffered at the hands of Bennell triggered a wave of other former youth footballers to come forward and speak publicly for the first time about the ordeals they suffered.

An additional 86 complainants are understood to have come forward since November 2016 to say Bennell abused them in the past.

'Some sense of justice'

Bennell, who coached at Crewe Alexandra and scouted for Manchester City, now faces sentencing.

"He claimed his accusers were making up stories about him following previous convictions and stories in the media but thanks to the evidence from his victims, the CPS and police were able to build a strong case to expose Bennell's denials as lies," Lamb said.

"I would like to pay tribute to the victims who have come forward to give evidence against him and I hope this outcome gives them some sense of justice being done after so many years."

The abuse of young sportspeople by those supposed to be in charge of their welfare was thrown into focus in the United States with the conviction earlier this year of Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics doctor who sexually abused girls and young women for decades.

Nassar faces a lifetime behind bars after being accused by some 265 women -- including Olympians and collegiate athletes -- of sexually abusing them over more than two decades.

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