Thu, Feb 15, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Former UK soccer coach guilty of child sex abuse


A former British youth soccer coach was on Tuesday found guilty of multiple counts of the sexual abuse of boys after a court heard he was a “child molester on an industrial scale.”

Barry Bennell, 64, who coached at Crewe Alexandra and scouted for Manchester City, was found guilty on 36 counts involving 10 child victims between 1979 and 1990.

Some of his accusers wept in court when the verdicts were read out.

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

The trial at Liverpool Crown Court heard that Bennell has served prison sentences for prior sex offenses.

During evidence, prosecutors said Bennell groomed not only his victims, but also their families.

His accusers told how he was treated with great reverence at Manchester City’s stadium and had a “power hold” over the boys as they dreamed of becoming professional players.

He abused the boys at his homes, where he had arcade games and exotic pets, including a puma and a monkey, but also on trips away and in his car while on the way to and from training, jurors heard.

Bennell, who appeared in court via videolink due to illness, declined to give evidence in his defense.

The court was read a transcript of a police interview with Bennell conducted in February last year.

Bennell denied abusing one boy, but admitted that he had stayed at his house and slept in his bed.

He said the youth player would have been too young for him to be attracted to when they first met, saying: “I always tended to aim for the 13-year-olds.”

Bennell also said he had been abusing another boy at the time.

“I had a victim; I didn’t need two or three or four,” he said.

He was convicted of 27 counts of indecent assault, seven counts of buggery and two of attempted buggery.

Before the trial, Bennell admitted seven counts of indecent assault involving three boys, two of whom were part of the trial.

That left Bennell facing trial on 48 counts. He has been convicted on 36; the jury was ordered to return not guilty verdicts on three, while two others were alternative charges, so will not now be dealt with.

The jury are to resume their deliberations tomorrow on the seven outstanding counts.

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