A 61 year old man from Glasgow has disclosed that he was sexually abused in the late 1960’s when he was on a football trip to Manchester United.
The victim who wishes to keep his anonymity has stated that he was in a group of “elite” footballers who were selected by his school to take part in a tournament in Manchester. The boys were taken to Manchester United’s grounds at Old Trafford. The victim says that he was taken from the hostel were he was staying and he was sexually abused.
He is unaware whether any other boys were abused. He describes that, “No one spoke about it” and the abuse took the form of an “initiation ceremony.” The trip was portrayed as, “part of the football journey of going down to the club and possibly becoming a professional football player.” He has said, “I believe that I was forced to do it because of my previous experience. I thought there was no escape and that I had to take action.”
The victim at this time, approximately 1969, when he was 12 or 13 years old, was attending the Sacred Heart Primary School in Glasgow. The School was run by Marist Brothers. He recounts that he was subject to physical and sexual abuse by the Brothers whilst he attended the School.
“That then led to an increase in the abuse which began by befriending you, telling you that you weren’t a bad person, you were a good person,” he said.
“All part of the grooming process, then on to sitting on the knee. Then, after the beatings, removing the clothing to make sure there were no marks. And then other sexual activity.”
The victim then moved to the Secondary School St Marys which was also run by the Brothers where he suffered more “sinister” abuse. Whilst he was at St Marys he was sent on a “holiday” to Fort Augustus School and Pluscarden Abbey. Both Schools were run by Benedict Monks and he was also abused at these schools.
It is the belief of the victim that he was “trafficked”. He believes that there is a link between the abuse he suffered by the Marist Brothers, the Benedict Monks and the abuse he suffered when he was sent to the football club.
“I realise now I was trafficked,” he said. “I didn’t realise that at the time. But there is a link between the abuse in the primary school – the Marist Brothers. A link to the Marist Brothers sending me to Fort Augustus and Pluscarden to the Benedictines and the Marist Brothers then sending me to the football clubs.”
He said: “My understanding was these clubs were more or less looking at us for potentially signing for the clubs. The type of player I was playing football with went on to be professional football players, to be professional football managers and professional coaches at the highest level in the Scottish Football Association.”
Manchester United is looking into historical abuse as part of the Football Association’s (FA) Inquiry lead by Clive Sheldon QC. They have been investigating the way clubs and the FA dealt with concerns over child abuse between 1970 and 2005.
Manchester United has said, “We have no knowledge or records of any allegations of this nature. However, if we are provided with further details and they allege involvement of anyone connected with the club, we will of course investigate further and involve all appropriate authorities.”
Lawyers for the Marist Brothers have made the following statement, “The allegations in question were investigated by the police, and the Scottish Catholic Safeguarding Service confirmed our clients have done all that is possible regarding the allegations made.”
The victim has said that, “he wants his story told so other survivors of abuse will take courage to come forward, to have their abuse acknowledged and an apology issued.”
Jordans Solicitors successfully represent and obtain compensation for clients who have suffered abuse whilst participating in sporting clubs and organisations. We would urge anyone affected to contact the Police and report their allegations. We would encourage anyone who would like help in pursuing a civil claim to contact us.