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'Stress, tears, anger, depression' - Ex-player abused by Heath reacts to Chelsea report

'Stress, tears, anger, depression' - Ex-player abused by Heath reacts to Chelsea report

Gary Johnson revealed in 2016 he was abused by former Chelsea chief scout Eddie HeathA damning report into historical sex abuse at Chelsea brings up "tearfulness and uncertainty", says a former player who was a victim of a "manipulative and prolific sexual abuser" at the club.An external review said ex-chief scout Eddie Heath, who died in 1983, groomed and abused young boys aged between 10 and 17 in the 1970s.Heath was first accused by former player Gary Johnson in 2016.
"You get rid of it and it all comes back now the report is out," he said."It brings up tearfulness and uncertainty - I'm not in this position because I want to be in this position. I'm no spokesperson but it doesn't take away the anger or the stress."Speaking to BBC Sport, Johnson said he "understood why I've been like I've been" after reading about the scale of Heath's abuse."The stress, the tears, the anger, the depression - that won't go away. It just eases in time," he said.
Chelsea apology over 'unchallenged' sex abuse
The report - led by barrister Charles Geekie QC - heard evidence from 23 witnesses, with 15 reporting "serious and unambiguous sexual assaults", including rape.It concluded that some adults at Chelsea must have been aware of Heath's abuse but "turned a blind eye". Chelsea's board apologised "unreservedly" that Heath had operated "unchallenged.""I am shocked by the number of victims," said Johnson."Let's hope we can look forward to this severity not happening again in the future and if this helps in any way then we've learned something."
'It's ruined all of us'
Johnson, who joined Chelsea as an 11-year-old in 1970, went public with allegations against Heath in December 2016 when he revealed the club has paid him a £50,000 settlement that included a confidentiality clause.Chelsea apologised "profusely" and said the confidentiality clause, which was withdrawn in November 2016, was "inappropriate."In his report, Geekie agreed the clause was "inappropriate" and should not have been included, but that he was satisfied Chelsea did not try to "hush up" Johnson's claim.Chelsea said it is committed to assessing compensation claims for victims."The least they can do is apologise but basically I want the club to do the right thing," said Johnson, who was a member of Chelsea's first team from 1978 to 1981."I don't mean just offering apologies - people have lost numerous weeks of work over the last 40-odd years through no fault of their own."Many times I've been too depressed to get out of bed, don't want to face anybody and couldn't understand why - I'm sure many other victims have felt the same."Where they're offering compensation to victims that goes hand in hand - Chelsea as a football club should do that and extra."We just wanted to play football, no-one asked for this to happen. Our dreams, our livelihoods, our lives have basically been ruined. It's ruined all of us us in one way or another."
'We're no heroes'
Many witnesses told the report they felt able to come forward after seeing Johnson and other former footballers Andy Woodward and Paul Stewart waive their right to anonymity to talk about the abuse they suffered."Everyone now is aware - it's not fool-proof but everything is going in the right direction because of the press, the victims, Andy Woodward, Paul Stewart, myself to a point," said Johnson."We're no heroes, just we've led the way in helping."People have mentioned they've come forward because of me. I don't find any pride in that but I'm pleased they've done that."I'm so proud of all the people who have come forward. It brings tears to your eyes that they are brave enough and that's a great thing."Good luck to all the victims, I just hope they are coping as best they can. It's not easy, I know. Good luck to them, I'm very proud of them."
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