Ex-Football Coach, Bob Higgins, is accused of groping and abusing 24 boys who were trainees at Southampton and Peterborough United Football Club between 1971 and 1996.
Higgins has pleaded not guilty to 50 counts of indecent assault at Salisbury Crown Court.
The charges arise following the NSPCC setting up a dedicated helpline to deal with sexual abuse within football clubs.
The helpline was first launched on the 23rd November 2016 and is supported by the Football Association to offer support to anyone who was sexually abused in football as a child. The helpline follows ex-football players Andy Woodward, Steve Walters and Paul Stewart having spoken about the abuse they suffered as young footballers.
Statistics have revealed that the helpline received over 1,700 calls in the first three weeks; 50 of which were received within the first 2 hours of opening.
Salisbury Crown Court has been told as part of Higgins’ trial, how on occasions when the phone kept ringing, it is alleged that the name Bob Higgins was mentioned over and over again.
The Jury have been informed by the Prosecution that it is alleged that the young footballers came to idolise the Defendant who had supreme power over their footballing futures which is a fact that he made abundantly clear to them.
As with many victims of football abuse who we currently represent, Higgins is alleged to have convinced the young boys that if they told anyone or complained about what had been going on between them it would put their professional football career in ‘serious jeopardy’.
The abuse the victims are alleged to have suffered at the hands of Higgins ranged from fondling when the boys stayed at his house overnight to more serious assaults during massages. Not only were the victims allegedly abused by Higgins, but they were also allegedly forced to perform sexual acts on him in a bedroom.
It is also alleged that Higgins abused his position of trust as a Football Coach at Southampton and Peterborough to gain access to his victims.
It has also been alleged that this is not the first time Higgins has come to the attention of the Courts, having previously been found not guilty at a trial for similar offences in the 1990s.
Often in cases of this nature, victims are able to bring claims against the offenders personally, but unfortunately they often lack the assets to make this worthwhile.
As a result of the psychological harm caused, his victims may be entitled to Criminal Injuries Compensation Application (CICA) Award in which we already assist a number of Football Victims with. The CICA is a government funded body for the victims of blameless crimes.
Not only may victims of football abuse be entitled to CICA Awards, but we have also been assisting victims with presenting claims again the various football clubs as a result of the abuse suffered by them, which has unfortunately had a profound impact on their lives.
If you know someone who has been affected by abuse at the hands of a football coach we have a specialist and dedicated team who would be happy to speak with you in the strictest of confidence. Call or dedicated abuse line on 0330 134 6430 or complete our online contact form.
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