Sports and youth clubs play key roles for many children growing up. They provide environments where they can develop early relationships with adults outside the home and school, all while experiencing different sports and outdoor activities.
Sadly there are a few people who take advantage of this situation. An increasing number of people have come forward to report grooming and abuse in sports clubs. The high profile Barry Bennell case – and following investigation known as Operation Hydrant – revealed the extent of football abuse in clubs surrounding young boys.
Our team at Jordans Solicitors represent survivors of sports and youth club abuse, seeking justice by supporting victims through the civil claims process to claim compensation. While money will never change what happened, seeking help from a specialist abuse solicitor can often be the start of taking back power.
The facts about sports and youth club abuse
Generally, boys are more likely to be victims of abuse at sports clubs. Sadly, they are also less likely to come forward and speak out about sexual, physical or emotional bullying and abuse when they have been abused by a sports coach.
Abuse can take place in a variety of locations including:
- Football training
- Private sports tuition
- Youth centres
- After school clubs
The well-known former football coach Barry Bennell was recently convicted of 50 child sex offences against 12 boys between 1979 and 1991.
The national charity for sports abuse victims – The Offside Trust – estimate that at least 80 sports coaches were convicted of child sexual abuse in the UK over a two year period.
While these statistics are shocking, an increased awareness of this issue has meant more victims are finding the confidence to come forward and talk to the police about their own experiences of sports coach abuse.
Compensation for youth club and sports coach abuse
People who can prove they have suffered from abuse in sports and youth clubs could be liable for compensation.
While this cannot change what has happened in the past, our team of expert abuse lawyers based in Yorkshire at Jordans Solicitors will endeavour to recover compensation to allow you to seek the required support to rebuild your life.
This could be used towards counselling to help deal and move on from these awful events. However, it’s worth noting that claims for sports and youth club abuse compensation can take a long time – it’s not uncommon for them to continue for many years.
Time limits do apply to youth club and sports coach abuse claims, so seek advice as soon as you can. But you may also be able to claim compensation even if the abuse occurred many years ago.
Support for sports and youth club abuse claimants
The effects of abuse on a child can have far-reaching implications. Sports and youth clubs should be safe places where they can learn and have fun but abuse can have an extreme impact on their development as adults and their day-to-day functioning.
Our role as abuse solicitors is to support and guide you through the claims process and give advice on the law.
We appreciate that we are not qualified to provide counselling or psychological treatment. We therefore try to work closely with both local and national charities who can provide additional support throughout the claims process and beyond.
How to make an abuse claim against a sports or youth club
Once you’ve informed your lawyer that you wish to pursue an abuse claim against a sports or youth club, our team of specialist solicitors will usually follow the steps below:
Your lawyer will begin gathering evidence in support of your sports or youth club abuse claim. This initial work could take months, depending on the type of evidence required. They will often need access to historical documents, such as social services, education and medical records.
Depending on when your abuse occurred, these documents can be difficult to get hold of and may have been destroyed.
Reporting sexual abuse to police
During the investigation stage, your lawyer will advise you to report your abuse to the police if you have not already done so. The civil claims process can seek compensation but it is not designed to punish the abuser, this is a matter for the criminal courts.
If the police are investigating your allegations, we will work in conjunction with them to help whenever possible.
A criminal conviction against your abuser could greatly improve your prospect of recovering youth, sports club or football abuse compensation. It is therefore usual practice to wait for the outcome of the criminal case before progressing a compensation claim.
Speaking to other survivors
Locating and speaking to other survivors or people who also attended the same sports group, youth club or came into contact with the same individual is also a key part of the investigation stage.
It is not uncommon for abusers to target more than one victim. In these cases, any sports or youth club abuse claim can be pursued as a group action. The more people who disclose similar accounts of abuse, the greater the prospect of proving your case.
Deciding the next steps
At the end of the investigation stage, your lawyer will be in a better position to advise on the merits of your case and make a decision about how to proceed.
Court appearances for sports and youth club abuse claims
It’s important that you’re aware that when starting a case that you may be required to give evidence in court. Appearing in court can be demanding and stressful, but if your case does get this far, your lawyer will be there to make sure you are full prepared and supported every step of the way.
Sports and youth club abuse FAQs
Could I be entitled to compensation?
If you have been abused by a sports coach or youth club leader, whether physical, sexual or emotional, you could be entitled to pursue a claim for compensation. Compensation for sexually abused victims and the prospects of succeeding with such a claim can vary greatly depending upon a variety of factors. Because it is such a complex area of law, it’s important you seek legal advice from an experienced abuse lawyer as soon as possible.
Who will my claim be against?
Following an initial interview, your abuse lawyer will be able to give you guidance about the best way to recover the damages to which you are entitled. Your sports or youth club abuse claim might be against the individual who caused the harm, such as a tennis coach or private sports tutor, or the organisation who employed them, such as a football club.
Will I be able to make a claim even if the abuse happened many years ago?
In cases involving historic sexual abuse in sports and youth clubs, the courts have used their power to allow claims to proceed outside of the usual limitation deadline. This is not an automatic right and any further delay in starting your claim could affect your chances of being allowed to proceed.
Will my sports or youth club abuse claim affect the police investigation?
If there is a criminal case proceeding in respect of the sexual or physical abuse, it’s likely your civil claim will be put on hold until the criminal investigation is complete. Due to the deadlines for bringing civil claims, it’s important you start your claim as soon as possible and then agree a postponement with the other parties, rather than taking no action at all.
How long will my claim take?
It’s not uncommon for sports and youth club abuse claims to take many years, so don’t anticipate sexual abuse compensation to be paid quickly. The amount of time a claim takes depends upon how many factors. For example, an ongoing police investigation into football abuse can delay cases. A lot depends upon whether the defendants are prepared to admit responsibility from the outset.
Will I need to give evidence against my abuser in court?
The vast majority of claims for abuse are settled out of court. But you should be prepared to give evidence about the abuse in court if necessary. Your account of what happened is likely to be the strongest evidence and will hold great weight in a courtroom. If you do need to attend court, your lawyer will fully support you throughout.
How much compensation will I receive?
You will be able to recover compensation for physical and psychological injuries that have been caused by abuse in sports and youth clubs. In addition, you may also be entitled to claim compensation for other losses, such as loss of earnings or treatment costs, if these can be attributed to the youth club or sports coach abuse.
How much will I be required to pay in legal costs?
During the initial interview, your lawyer will be able to assess the merits of your sports or youth club abuse claim and provide advice on the most appropriate funding option for you. The vast majority of our sexual abuse cases are run on a ‘no win, no fee’ agreement, which means you do not have to pay any legal costs if your claim is unsuccessful.
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