A former Southampton Football Club youth coach has been found guilty by Bournemouth’s Crown Court of 45 counts of indecent assault against 23 boys.
Bob Higgins exploited his position as the “star-maker”, to groom and sexually abuse young children. He was trusted by parents and idolised by the youngsters.
Mr Higgins kept an open house, where he would allow boys to stay with him whilst training over weekends and school holidays. Here, he would touch the young boys inappropriately and demand cuddles.
Jurors at Bournemouth’s Crown Court heard how the football coach had played, soft, romantic music whilst driving boys to football training and would then proceed to indecently assault the young children.
Mr Higgins manipulated his position of power to use the pretext of “treating injuries” or “soapy massages” to disguise and mask his predatory nature to sexually groom and assault the boys.
Mr Higgins joined Southampton FC in the early 70s, leaving the football club in 1989. Mr Higgins went on trial in the early 90s, however, he was acquitted on one charge, with the remaining charges subsequently dropped due to a lack of evidence.
Higgins was free therefore to remain and work in football and he went on to work with a number of clubs thereafter, including Peterborough, Bashley FC, Winchester City and Fleet Town. Higgins has coached well known former players such as BBC football pundit Alan Shearer and one of Southampton’s most famous sons, Matt Le Tissier. There is no evidence to suggest that either were abused.
An independent review into child sexual abuse in football is looking into what the Football Association and clubs knew about Higgins.
If you, or a loved one, have been affected by sexual abuse and wish to pursue a claim, please do not hesitate to contact our team of experienced, specialist lawyers who will be happy to talk with you about your options. Our lawyers have extensive knowledge of historic abuse which has included acting on behalf of several former football players against Premier League football clubs.
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