Thursday, 23 May 2019

Football coach Bob Higgins guilty of abusing trainees

A former youth football coach who held "supreme power" over the futures of budding players has been found guilty of indecently assaulting boys.

Bob Higgins sexually touched and groped 24 victims, most of them trainees at Southampton FC and Peterborough United, between 1971 and 1996.

Bournemouth Crown Court heard his status as a "God-like" figure enabled his decades-long campaign of abuse.

A jury found him guilty of 45 counts of indecent assault.

Higgins' conviction will allow a Football Association (FA) review into child sex abuse allegations to conclude its investigations, a spokesman said.

The independent review, led by Clive Sheldon QC, would continue working to establish what the clubs and the FA knew about Higgins.

During Higgins' trial, prosecutors told the court the defendant was "idolised" by trainees, who viewed him as a mentor and father figure.

Victims said they were abused during post-exercise soapy massages, in Higgins' car while he played love songs on the stereo and at his home where he cuddled with boys on his sofa

Adam Feest QC said Higgins had shown a "systematic and all-pervasive pattern of grooming behaviour" in gaining the trust of the boys and of their parents.

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