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Football coach Bob Higgins jailed for24 years for abusing trainees

Football coach Bob Higgins jailed for24 years for abusing trainees

Bob Higgins had denied molesting boys over a period of 25 years
A former youth football coach has been jailed for 24 years and three months for abusing young players.Bob Higgins sexually touched and groped 24 victims, most of them trainees at Southampton FC and Peterborough United.In May, Higgins, 66, was found guilty at a retrial of 45 counts of indecent assault between 1971 and 1996. He was convicted of another count last year.Judge Peter Crabtree called Higgins a "predatory, cunning" serial sex abuser who "carefully groomed" the teenagers.Higgins' victims told Winchester Crown Court of suicidal thoughts and relationship problems later in life.
Football coach Bob Higgins jailed for24 years for abusing trainees

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Jamie Webb, Dean Radford, Lee Smith and Greg Llewellyn were all abused by Higgins
During Higgins' trial, prosecutors told the court he 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.Judge Crabtree said Higgins had shown "not one jot of remorse"."They believed you held the key to their futures," he told the defendant."You normalised cuddling and stroking, which paved the way for more intimate abuse."For many the impact extended to their performance on the field or to turning their backs on a football career. Some of them suffered severe psychological harm."
Football coach Bob Higgins jailed for24 years for abusing trainees

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Bob Higgins "did not speak a single word" during 15 hours of interviews, police said
Higgins made no reaction as the sentence was passed.The allegations arose after the NSPCC set up a dedicated helpline for people who had encountered childhood abuse within football.It was launched after a number of former footballers spoke on the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme in November 2016.
'Keep quiet or risk losing everything'
During his time as a coach, Bob Higgins worked with young footballers who would go on to become national heroes and household names.But others were not so fortunate. Some were haunted by their ordeals, and gave up on football entirely.Such was Higgins's hold over those he abused, many felt unable to say anything, even to close family members, for up to 30 years.Read more: The 'star-maker' who abused young footballersA BBC South Today documentary about the Higgins case, A Saint and a Sinner, is available on BBC iPlayer
Child sexual abuse in football
Southampton
Peterborough
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