English for­mer play­ers al­lege sex abuse by coaches

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

FOR­MER Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur striker Paul Ste­wart and two other ex-play­ers have come for­ward to al­lege sex­ual abuse at the hands of youth coaches when they were chil­dren.

Ste­wart, capped three times by Eng­land, said he was re­peat­edly sex­u­ally as­saulted by a man who threat­ened to kill his fam­ily if he told any­one.

The 52-year-old, who also played for Liver­pool and Manch­ester City, joins for­mer Crewe Alexan­dra play­ers Andy Wood­ward and Steve Wal­ters in speak­ing out about abuse they suf­fered.

“The men­tal scars led me into other prob­lems with drink and drugs,” Ste­wart told yes­ter­day’s Daily Mir­ror.

“I know now it was a groom­ing process. The level of abuse got worse and worse.

“I wanted peo­ple to know how dif­fi­cult it was to come for­ward. It stirred up a lot of my past which I thought I had buried.”

Ste­wart, a mar­ried fa­ther of three, said other play­ers were also abused by the man, who was not named.

Ste­wart was en­cour­aged to speak out af­ter Wood­ward told The Guardian he had suf­fered years of abuse at the hands of con­victed pae­dophile Barry Ben­nell, a for­mer youth coach at Crewe.

Ben­nell was jailed for nine years in 1998 af­ter plead­ing guilty to sex­ual of­fences against young boys.

He was im­pris­oned for two years in May 2015 for a his­toric sex­ual of­fence against a boy and has also spent time in jail in the United States.

Cheshire Po­lice, re­spon­si­ble for polic­ing the Crewe area, said six peo­ple had come for­ward say­ing they wanted to speak to po­lice in the light of Wood­ward’s in­ter­view.

Wood­ward told The Guardian, “My life has been ru­ined un­til the age of 43, but how many oth­ers are there?

“I’m talk­ing about hun­dreds of chil­dren who Barry Ben­nell cher­ryp­icked for var­i­ous football teams and who now, as adults, might still be liv­ing with that aw­ful fear.”

Wal­ters, who be­came Crewe’s youngest entrant in 1988, said he had also been abused by Ben­nell.

“All these years, I’ve had this se­cret in­side me,” he told The Guardian.

“But I have to let it all out now. It’s the only way. I want clo­sure and I know, for a fact, this is go­ing to help me move on.”

Based in north­west Eng­land and cur­rently in Eng­land’s fourth tier, Crewe have a well-es­tab­lished rep­u­ta­tion for de­vel­op­ing young play­ers.

Crewe chair John Bowler, who was in po­si­tion at the time of Ben­nell’s of­fences, told the BBC the club were “dis­tressed” by the ac­cu­sa­tions and would re­view the sit­u­a­tion.

He added he was “very sorry for the dis­tress caused” to Wood­ward and Wal­ters.

Wood­ward has been praised for speak­ing out by Bri­tain’s Na­tional So­ci­ety for the Pre­ven­tion of Cru­elty to Chil­dren (NSPCC). –

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