Investigation into allegations of child sex abuse is one step closer to completion after former Southampton coach, Bob Higgins, is found guilty of mistreatment of young trainees
- Bob Higgins was found guilty of offensive young trainees
- More than 30 years ago, concerns were expressed about the 66-year-old predator
- Higgins gave players lifts to training and gained their confidence before they were playing poker
The long-awaited independent assessment of alleged allegations of child sex in football has taken a further step towards completion after the conviction of a youth coach.
Clive Sheldon QC leads an investigation into what the FA and clubs knew and made about allegations of sexual abuse of children between 1970 and 2005 in the aftermath of the scandal that has struck the sport.
It was delayed for legal reasons thanks to the trial of former Southampton coach Bob Higgins and further allegations against convicted pedophile and former Manchester City and Crewe coach Barry Bennell.
Bob Higgins has been found guilty of 45 indictments for indecent attacks against 23 teenage boys
On Thursday, however, Higgins was found guilty of dejected attacks on young trainees, clearing up one of the obstacles on Sheldon's path.
A spokesperson for the review said it was now possible to investigate what the clubs and FA knew or did not know about shutting down Higgins.
They added: & # 39; The Review is also awaiting the outcome of further investigation into allegations of abuse by Barry Bennell. & # 39;
In February, Bennell was sentenced to 31 years in prison for abusing 12 boys, seven of whom were linked to Crewe Alexandra. A number of accusations have since been made.
Higgins sexually moved and touched 23 boys, mainly from Southampton and Peterborough United, between 1971 and 1996. He was found guilty of Bournemouth Crown Court for 45 counts of indecent assault.
Prosecutors told the Court that Higgins, considered a king maker, was idolized by trainees & # 39; and that he & # 39; had the highest power over their football futures & # 39 ;.
Concern was first raised more than 30 years ago about the 66-year-old predator, but he was acquitted of sexual abuse.
After a new eight-week investigation, which took place after a previous jury in the Crown Court in Winchester had failed to pass judgment, justice was done.
Higgins, who showed little emotion at the dock, let the boys stay with him after training sessions or during school holidays. He gave them lifts to training and gained their confidence before they were playing poker.
There is no suggestion that one of Southampton & # 39; s biggest names coached by Higgins, including Alan Shearer and Matt Le Tissier, were being abused by him. Many of those who had become so upset that they gave up football completely.
Higgins, who will be sentenced at a later date, was acquitted of five counts of the same crime. The jury failed to make a decision about a further count.
He was found guilty of a further count of indecent attack after a lawsuit last year. Several victims of Higgins sat in the public gallery and burst into tears when the verdicts were pronounced.
Sheldon was asked by the FA in 2016 to look at historical sexual abuse in the sport after a series of accusations from former players.
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