Neal Harris, 25 a children’s football coach and trainee primary teacher has been jailed for sexually abusing 2 girls in his care. The offences were committed when he coached young players at a South Gloucestershire Football Club.
Harris pleaded guilty at the Bristol Crown Court for sexual activity with a child in a position of trust with regard to both girls.
James Tucker for the Prosecution said:
“Harris was 21 when he abused a girl aged 14 by kissing and touching her sexually above her clothes. She fell in love with him. At one stage Harris messaged the child with a picture of himself in his stained pants, telling her: “Look what you do to me.””
That made her feel uncomfortable but she initially felt unable to tell anyone. Harris told her they should wait to have sex when she was 18, but cuddled her on a bed and kissed her stomach.
Eventually Harris moved on to another girl he coached and, after exchanging messages on social media, they became intimate and had sex a month before her 16th birthday. She was worried because it was her first time. She told him she wanted to. She describes him using condoms and they spoke about her having an implant. He bought her a ring and Christmas gifts.
The court heard that Harris “went on to have sex with the girl at his home and in his car.”
Harris initially denied the charges against him.
On sentencing, Judge James Patrick told Harris:
“You were their coach. You were training to be a primary school teacher. You used your position to groom these two girls, both very significantly younger than you.”
Harris was sentenced to 4 years in prison. He has been barred from working with children and vulnerable adults and has been placed on the sex offenders register.
Investigating Officer DS Geoff Smith from Avon and Somerset Police said:
“Neal Harris abused his position of trust in the worst way possible and took advantage of two teenage girls who he was in contact with through his football coaching.
He groomed the victims who believed they were in a relationship with them and he used social media as one method of communicating with them. He told them they had to keep the “relationship” a secret.
He met them in parks, woods, car-parks and in public places including behind a supermarket, which is where the sexual abuse would take place.
The victims now understand they were groomed and the offending committed against them will have an impact on them for the rest of their lives.”
Jordans Solicitors act for client’s who have suffered abuse whilst at school and whilst participating in sporting activities. We would advise you to report your experiences to the Police and contact our team for assistance in pursuing a civil claim. You can contact our Abuse team free on 0330 300 1103 or request a call back and a member of our team will be in touch with you.