Bob Higgins, 65, denies 50 charges of indecent assault against teenage boys between 1971 and 1996. His trial is underway.
The majority of Higgins’ 24 alleged victims were trainees at Southampton and Peterborough United and are said to have provided “compelling” accounts of the historic abuse they suffered.
Details include incidents of abuse which took place at football camps, during massages, heading drills, on car and ferry journeys and even at the home that Higgins shared with his wife. One of the young boys was encouraged to refer to him (Higgins) as “dad” and he told some of the other young trainees not to have girlfriends and to concentrate solely on football.
The respect that many of the young boys had for Higgins, coupled with the power that he had over them, re-enforces gross breach of trust that this type of abuse equates to. Prosecutor Adam Feest QC told the court that Higgins had used his power as a “successful and well-respected coach” to “deliberately manipulate” trainees, who regarded him as “god-like” and a “kingmaker”.
An alleged victim told the jury that Higgins tricked the young footballers into stripping and allowing him to touch them by saying that even England football stars had “naked massages”. Yet despite his initial denial, once in the dock, Winchester Crown Court heard how the former football coach let his “mask slip” when he admitted that he may have been sexually aroused while giving a massage to a naked trainee.
The charges arose after the NSPCC set up a helpline for victims of abuse in football. Many calls to the helpline made direct reference to child abuse offences being committed by Bob Higgins.
His victims may be entitled to Criminal Injuries Compensation Application (CICA) Award and/or may be able to present a claim directly against the football club itself. Here at Farleys we are able to assist with both and we currently assist numerous victims of football abuse in their claims, both of which can be run alongside each other.
If you or someone you know has been affected by abuse at the hands of a football coach or other sporting employee then we are here to help. Our specialist and dedicated team would be happy to speak with you in the strictest of confidence. Call our dedicated abuse line on 0330 134 6430 or complete our online contact form.