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Three more players come forward in football sex abuse scandal

NewsBy Sunday World
Barry Bennell
Barry Bennell

Three more people have come forward to say they were abused by a coach as young footballers.

Jason Dunford and Chris Unsworth, speaking to BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme, allege they were victims of Barry Bennell, a former coach who sexually abused young boys across three decades from the 1970s onward.

The Guardian also reported on Thursday that an unnamed former Newcastle player had contacted police to make allegations against George Ormond, a coach in the north east who was jailed for six years in 2002 for carrying out numerous assaults across a 24-year period.

The latest claims come after retired players Andy Woodward, Steve Walters, Paul Stewart and David White spoke out publicly about the abuse they suffered as young footballers.

Woodward, Walters and White have all said they were victims of Bennell while Stewart said he was abused by another youth coach.

Bennell, who worked for Crewe, Manchester City, Stoke and several junior teams in north-west England and the Midlands, was given a four-year sentence for raping a British boy on a football tour of Florida in 1994 and then a nine-year sentence for 23 offences against six boys in England in 1998.

He was jailed for a third time in 2015 when he pleaded guilty to abusing a boy at a football camp in Macclesfield in 1980.

Unsworth revealed he told his partner he had been abused by Bennell after seeing Woodward become the first person to speak out last week.

The former Manchester City and Crewe youth player, now 44, said: "I had never, ever told anyone until that moment.

"I sat the rest of my family down yesterday and told them too. Speaking out is liberating."

Dunford, who like Unsworth has waived his right to anonymity, alleged Bennell attempted to touch him in bed while staying at a Butlins holiday camp after winning a football competition.

"I told him to get off me. After that, Bennell began to torment me - dropping me from the team, telling me I would play, but on the Sunday dropping me again," he said.

Dunford, who left the Manchester City nursery team to join another boys' team, also said another coach attempted to abuse him.

He said: "He had me and two others over to stay the night before a game, and we all stayed in the same bed. He started to touch me in the night. I pushed his hand away.

Later I woke up again, and the coach was touching one of the other boys."

Neither Unsworth or Dunford turned professional in the sport.

Football Association chairman Greg Clarke was 'appalled' after finding out the governing body failed to respond to Bennell's conviction for sexual abuse.

Bennell, now 62, was the subject of Channel 4 documentary called 'Soccer's Foul Play' in 1997 and the programme's lead reporter, Deborah Davies, told Press Association

Sport that few in football wanted to talk about Bennell, that the FA refused all requests for interviews and said nothing after his conviction at Chester Crown Court.

"That is appalling," said Clarke, when that was put to him on Thursday.

Clarke, who has only been in charge since August, told reporters at Wembley that the governing body was now taking the rapidly-growing scandal very seriously.

"We've got 8,500 safeguarding officers out there in the community and I wrote to 30,000 clubs today to raise their awareness," said Clarke.

"These are heinous crimes and they need to be investigated by the police and they will get our support."

Clarke was speaking after a meeting with Woodward, the former Crewe defender whose powerful interview with the Guardian last week has been the catalyst for others to come forward.

Woodward, now 43, was one of the six players who testified against Bennell in 1998 but he waived his anonymity to speak freely about an ordeal that continues to overshadow his life.

His courage prompted two more of Bennell's victims - Walters, another to come through Crewe's famous academy, and former Manchester City and England forward White - to come forward, while a fourth player, ex-Spurs, Liverpool and England star Stewart, revealed on Tuesday that he was abused as a boy by a different coach.

More victims are expected to speak out in the coming days as the NSPCC set up a dedicated helpline for footballers, with the FA's support.

England captain Wayne Rooney has encouraged any player who has been sexually abused during their careers to call the 24-hour service.

The Manchester United forward said: "It's awful that some of my colleagues have suffered this way whilst playing the sport that I and they love.

"Andy has been really brave to come forward and I would encourage anyone who has or is suffering from abuse to call the NSPCC's new football helpline."

Both Crewe and Manchester City have now started internal investigations into who knew what about Bennell and the extent of his links with the clubs. Newcastle have yet to comment.