More footballers come forward in sex abuse case

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Barry Bennell

 

Andy Woodward and Steve Walters have both publicly spoken out about being sexually abused by their former youth coach Barry Bennell whilst playing for Crewe Alexandra in the 80’s.

 

The serial peadophile, now 62 was sentenced to nine years in prison in 1998 after admitting sexual offences against six boys. He was imprisoned for 23 charges of sexual offence against six boys aged nine to 15. Bennell’s crimes were first detected in 1994 when was he given a four-year sentence in Florida after admitting to indecent assault of a boy during a football tour. Bennell was jailed again in 2015 and sentenced to two years in prison for an offence involving a 12-year-old boy in Macclesfield.

 

Last week, Andy Woodward, who played for the junior team, finally broke the silence by giving a statement about the years of sexual abuse and mental torture he suffered from Bennell from the age of 11 and 15. He waived his right to anonymity in an attempt to encourage other potential victims to come forward.

andy-woodward

Andy Woodward

 

His statement helped Steve Walters to shine light on the abuse he also suffered at the hands of Bennell and the shattering effects it had on his life. The second former footballer has never felt able to talk publicly about what happened to him at Crewe, having spent more than 30 years living with a secret he was too ashamed to tell.

 

 

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Steve Walters

Amid these allegations, Paul Stewart a former England player also stepped forward to reveal that he was sexually assaulted ‘every day for four years’ by his youth coach. Stewart said he was attacked between the ages of 11 and 15 by a coach who had pledged to ‘make him a star’.

paul-stewart

Paul Stewart

 

The Football Association is working to set up a helpline to encourage other sex abuse victims in football to come forward in the wake of allegations made by Andy Woodward and Steve Walters. Crewe Alexandra, the club at the centre of the abuse claims has also pledged to carry out its own investigation and the chairman John Bowler spoke on the matter: “There is no doubt we concur with what the FA have said and we are now looking at it from within and considering what our actions should be going forward. We are a proud club and when allegations are made that we didn’t take it seriously we want to reflect. I will be meeting with the directors to review the situation. I’m the chairman but we have a board of very dedicated people who are at the heart of what Crewe Alexandra are about.”

 

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