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Further Abuse Victims of Football Coach Barry Bennell Break Silence

By Head of Abuse Team

A further six people have come forward alleging abuse at the hands of football coach Barry Bennell after ex-Crewe player Andy Woodward took the brave decision to tell his story.  

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Barry Bennell was jailed for nine years in 1998 after he admitted 23 charges of sexual offences against six boys aged from nine to 15. Woodward was abused during Bennell’s employment at Crewe Alexandra where Bennell was a coach in the 1980s and 1990s. During his career, Bennell also worked at Bury, Sheffield United and Scunthorpe United, with close associations with Stoke City and Manchester City, along with junior teams in Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Cheshire and Greater Manchester.

Mr Woodward told the Guardian: “We’ve seen with the Jimmy Savile case how people have had the courage, yet I’d say within the football world it’s even harder to speak out. Only now, at the age of 43, I feel I can actually live without that secret and that massive, horrible burden. I want to get it out and give other people an opportunity to do the same. I want to give people strength. I survived it. I lost my career, which was a massive thing for me, but I’m still here. I came through the other side. Other people can have that strength.”

The Guardian has reported that the police are in the early stages of collating new information.

It is incredibly brave for these men who so many look up to as footballers and role models to share their stories so that others might find the same courage to step forward and speak about the abuse they have suffered.

The NSPCC and Football Association have set up a helpline for potential victims. The hotline will be available 24 hours a day on 0800 023 2642.

Ben Hilton, acting detective sergeant in Cheshire Police’s public protection unit, said in a statement: “As of Monday we have been made aware of six other people who have come forward wishing to speak to the police. We are currently in the process of making contact with the six people and at this stage no one else is under investigation.”

It is incredibly brave for these men who so many look up to as footballers and role models to share their stories so that others might find the same courage to step forward and speak about the abuse they have suffered.

Had mandatory reporting legislation been in place and applied to sports clubs, Bennell may have been stopped sooner.

 

 

 

Richard Scorer is a principal lawyer in the abuse team at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.

Slater and Gordon have the UK’s most experienced team of abuse lawyers and are currently representing over 800 survivors of abuse, including a woman who was allegedly groomed and sexually abused by Olympic coach, Darrell Bunn.

We offer a free and completely confidential consultation to anyone affected by sexual abuse. Call us anytime 24/7 on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online.

 

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