Specialist Abuse Lawyers At Irwin Mitchell Praise Survivors’ Bravery
Specialist lawyers say the bravery shown by several footballers in revealing how past abuse has impacted on their lives will be a massive help for others who may previously have been too scared to share what happened to them.
Former England midfielder Paul Stewart has come forward as the latest footballer to reveal that he was abused by a youth coach as a young sportsman.
Paul Stewart, who has had three appearances for England, says he was abused as a child, along with Steve Walters, midfielder for Crewe, and Andy Woodward, former Bury defender, both of which have had their anonymity waived to tell their stories of being abused by former Crewe Alexandra coach, Barry Bennell.
The two footballers wanted to share their story to encourage others within the sport to come forward, which has led to Paul Stewart speaking out.
Tom Fletcher, an expert abuse lawyer at Irwin Mitchell has worked on cases involving abuse by sports coaches and has recently been instructed by another survivor of abuse by Barry Bennell who was employed as a scout for Manchester City Football Club at the time.
Barry Bennell, at the age of 44, admitted sexual offences against young boys after working with junior teams between 1978 to 1992. He was sentenced to nine years in prison in 1998 after admitting 23 charges of sexual offences against six boys aged nine to 15.
The 62-year-old was once employed by Crewe Alexandra football club and would look for talented boys aged nine to 14 to play in teams in Derbyshire, Staffordshire and Cheshire.
Bennell would invite the footballers to stay in his home or take them on a tour which is where the sexual offences took place.
He was also sentenced in May 2015 to two years in prison for another historical sexual offence committed against a 12-year-old boy on a football pitch in Macclesfield.
He is permanently suspended from football.
Tom Fletcher, an expert abuse lawyer, said:
Expert Opinion“We work with many survivors of abuse and we understand how harrowing it often is to talk about what happened particularly in an industry such as football.
“Abuse survivors often suffer in silence and we welcome the bravery of the three footballers who have revealed what happened to them as children.
“Hopefully their bravery and courage will see further footballers who have been abused as a child by their coaches or managers to share their stories to raise awareness that these traumatic incidents can happen behind the closed doors of the sporting industry.
“The awareness in the media may also encourage young sportsmen and women who find themselves in a similar situation of abuse at present to stand up to stop what is happening to them.” Tom Fletcher - Associate Solicitor