Paul Stewart, 52, former Manchester City player bravely disclosed last year that he had suffered abuse as an eleven year old boy by youth coach Frank Roper.
Paul has now written a book, “Damaged” about his experiences. In the book, Paul describes the scenes of his abuse, “at desolate playing fields, car parks and training pitches where Roper a coach with Manchester junior side Nova took him to be alone.”
He tells of the effects the abuse has had on his life; recurrent nightmares, depression, drug use and the devastating effect his drug abuse has had on his family.
Paul disclosed that,” Roper threatened to kill his parents and brothers if he ever told anyone about his sick attacks. At 11 years old, you believe that. The mental scars led me into problems with drink and drugs. I know now it was a grooming process. The level of abuse got worse and worse. He was a monster.”
Roper died on the 13th September 2005 from prostate cancer at St Ann’s Hospice in Stockport. This meant that he never faced justice.
Paul has also launched a charity, “SAVE” to offer support to victims of abuse with other footballers who have come forward; David White, Ian Ackley and Derek Bell.
In a recent interview Paul has said,
“I wish now I had come forward much earlier, a long, long time ago. I do believe that my first interview has helped me, though it is difficult for me to judge. Bev, my parents, my children have seen it. It feels like a weight has been lifted, a burden deep in my soul. Victims will know immediately what I mean… you carry it, hidden away. People use the words ‘brave’, ‘courageous’ about my decision to disclose my past. But I still feel guilty in some respects. I can’t help thinking that had I been courageous when I was a young footballer and told my coach or manager, then I might have stopped Roper abusing countless others. I will live with that for the rest of my life.”
Paul’s disclosure of the abuse he suffered as a child in football in April 2016 resulted in the soccer abuse inquiry, Operation Hydrant being launched. By July 2016, Operation Hydrant has identified 741 victims, 276 potential suspects and involved over 328 football clubs. After appearing on Crimewatch in April 2016 hundreds of people contacted the show and the response was described as, “as one of the biggest in the long history of the show.”
Paul says: “I was shocked by the scale of this problem. I knew my abuser had abused others. But I did not expect the tsunami of cases. It was as enormous as it was tragic. I have spoken to so many people over the past 10 months in the same situation as me. I wanted to help them. That was the reason for coming forward. That’s why I have written the book.”
Paul has said that he wants the overriding message of the book to be that people do not have to suffer alone. “You are not alone. If you suffer as I suffered, seek help as soon as you can. Don’t keep it secret like I did for so many years. It is not easy. But you can pull through.”
Jordans Solicitors represent victims of child abuse suffered by sporting organisations, including Manchester City Football Club, Wallsend Boys Club and Lymington Football Training School. We have helped people to claim non-recent sexual abuse compensation for abuse that happened decades ago. We would advise you to report your allegations to the Police and contact us for advice regarding a civil claim for compensation.