Child abuse still happening in football, victims of Barry Bennell tell talkSPORT

2018-02-17 05:37:56

Victims of the paedophile former football coach Barry Bennell have told talkSPORT the game has not eradicated child sexual abuse.

Gary Cliffe, 47, who waived his anonymity at the conclusion of Bennell's trial, is a detective with Staffordshire Police. He said: "I don't think it is happening at professional clubs because the safeguarding is so good. But I know that those paedophiles will have been driven elsewhere. They will go to amateur clubs or they will get their kicks online."

Another survivor, Chris Unsworth, agrees: "I think it was rife in those days. I am not saying that it is rife now, but I know for sure that it is still going on."

Manchester City's internal, QC led investigation has revealed the existence of another potential paedophile, John Broome, with historic connections to the club although not linked to Bennell.

However, talkSPORT understands no alarming incidents have been identified from the 21st century.

Mr Unsworth says safeguarding standards introduced across English football in the early 2000s have made a difference at the elite level.

"It is making it a lot harder for [abusers] to do what Bennell has done."

The 64-year-old admitted seven counts and was convicted of forty-three counts of sexual abuse against twelve vcitms who were aged 8-15 at the time of the offences between 1979-1991.

86 others have come forward to police with claims against Bennell, who is facing his fourth prison term for assaults committed against children.

He was jailed for nine years in 1998 for abusing six boys, one of whom was Ian Ackley.

Mr Ackley now works for the Save Association, which aims to bring about positive change in safeguarding through football.

He told talkSPORT: "If anyone says that this is something from the past and it is not happening today then they are naive and stupid. It could be the scouts, the guides, theatre groups, private tuition, tennis clubs or athletics."

A feature in Bennell's recent trial was how he charmed his victims' families; even employing the mothers of some of the boys at the video shop he owned. The trust he won from them enabled him to maintain his power hold over their children.

Mr Ackley has a message for parents sending their sons or daughters to play sport today.

"Talk to the coaches, talk to the clubs, see what their practices are and if you think that their behaviour towards your children is unacceptable then go somewhere else. It is not worth the risk."

Barry Bennell is required to appear at Liverpool Crown Court in person for sentencing at midday on Monday 19th February.

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