Today, Barry Bennell stands trial for 55 child sex offences against 12 boys including 42 counts of indecent assault, eleven counts of serious sexual assault and a further two counts of attempted sexual assault. The offences are alleged to have occurred between 1979 and 1991.
Bennell has admitted to seven of those charges concerning the indecent assault of two boys between 1988 and 1991.The boys were aged 11 to 14 at the time of the incidents. Despite admitting to six of the charges at the outset of the trial, and one previously, Bennell will not be sentenced for these offences until the conclusion of the trial which is expected to last eight weeks.
This is not the first time that Bennell has faced charges for child sex abuse.
In 1994, Bennell was charged with sexual assault of a 13 year old boy at a summer football camp in Florida. He was sentenced to three years in prison in the USA. In 1998, Bennell was sentenced to nine years imprisonment at Chester Crown Court after Ian Ackley came forward with his experience, having been repeatedly raped by Bennell. In 2015, Bennell was convicted of indecent assault and enticing a boy under the age of 14 to commit an act of gross indecency.
Even if Bennell is not found guilty of the remaining charges, criminal acquittal is not a bar to the victims bringing civil claims against Bennell. Although, on occasion, this may make it more difficult to prove on the balance of probabilities (more than 50%) that the abuser did abuse the victims, many victims are successful in their claim against their abuser without the abuser having a criminal conviction.
The likelihood is that claims will be brought not against Bennell but against his employer. If he abused his victims during the course of his employment as a football coach the likelihood is that his employers will be vicariously liable for his actions. Our abuse claims department presently has numerous similar claims ongoing against professional football clubs. Damages and costs arising out of the Bennell case may run to millions of pounds because of the number of victims and the severity of the incidents.
Our work with professional footballers suggests that their foremost priority is always to secure the conviction of the abuser. Only when that is achieved will they look to the civil courts for compensation for what they have suffered. The victims of Bennell can now look to progress to this next stage.
Farleys’ abuse department have extensive experience of dealing with abuse cases, both current and historic. To speak to one of our specialist lawyers in confidence please call 0330 134 6430 or email us here.