Former football coach Bob Higgins stands for retrial at Bournemouth Crown Court for 51 counts of indecent assault of 24 boys, whilst he worked at Southampton FC and Peterborough United, between 1971 and 1996.
Higgins who is now 61 years old entered the Court with a shopping bag over his face. Higgins has denied all the charges against him.
Following Andy Woodward speaking out in public about the abuse he suffered by a football coach, the NSPCC set up a helpline for victims of abuse specifically within the football community.
Numerous victims of Higgins came forward with allegations of the abuse they suffered from him.
Higgins used his authority to abuse the victims. He had a good reputation in the football community and the young trainees looked up to him. The victims described how they complied with his requests as they did not want to jeopardise their chance of a career in the football profession. The abuse was alleged to have taken place during training sessions; massage sessions, and in Higgins car and home while some of the boys stayed overnight. The abuse ranged from fondling to more serious sexual assaults.
The Court heard how Higgins abused one of the victims at least twice a week for several months in the 1970s. Higgins later visited the victim in 1990 to tell him that he had “found God and needed to say sorry.”
Mr Feest, prosecuting QC, told the court that Mr Higgins had shown a “systematic and all-pervasive pattern of grooming behaviour. He gained the trust of the boys and of their parents. The young footballers idolised the defendant. He held supreme power over their footballing futures, a fact which he made abundantly clear to them. Mr Higgins had developed a real, if somewhat perverse, affectionate attachment for some of the boys he abused. For others, his sexual acts were more opportunistic, testing out how far he could go before his victim would rebuff him. ”
The court heard how Mr Higgins was “infatuated” with former footballer Billy Seymour. Seymour died in a car crash in January, but his evidence will be heard in the trial. The Court heard how Seymour later misused drugs and alcohol as a “coping mechanism” for the abuse.
The trial continues.
If you have been a victim of abuse and would like to speak to one of our specialist abuse lawyers in confidence, please do not hesitate to contact us. We can advise you on the available options for pursuing a civil damages claim. Jordans successfully represent and secure compensation for numerous victims of abuse and are experts in overcoming the particular challenges that arise in these sensitive cases. Our abuse team can be contacted on 0800 9555 094.