Abuse in sport
Sport provides an opportunity for sex offenders to isolate and groom their victims. It is no different from any other situation, for example, education, where the young person is effectively entrusted to another for their care and well-being.
Education has simply made rapid progress in safeguarding and child protection, and it seems that the world of sport has to act fast to ensure that confidence in its institutions is not lost. What the recent sports cases reveal is that the offenders are quite brazen, and often their gossip about their behaviour which should have meant the red lights were flashing but if they were they were ignored.
The cost of child abuse in sport is immense both in human and financial terms. There is reputational damage as well as the damage suffered by the victims which sadly is often considerable and lifelong. The clubs will too often be vicariously liable for the actions of the offenders viz the abusers and will be required to pay compensation to the victims. Even if they are insured the cost still has to be met.
Some areas we cover:
Abuse in Wrestling
The All-party Parliamentary Group on Wrestling published, on 8th April, published its report into professional wrestling in Great Britain. The report makes interesting reading and the authors make a series of recommendations.
Wrestling has come on a long way from the days of Saturday afternoon television where audiences were entertained by stars such as Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks. These were household names.
That was a time when terms and concepts such as “safeguarding” did not feature on the public lexicon. Child abuse and any association with wrestling or the risk of it would never have featured as a consideration. The APPG in its report have drawn to our attention, and in particular the world of wrestling, that the sport is not immune to the risk of child abuse, and that it needs to act.
You can find more information in our podcast: HJ Talks About Abuse: Alan Collins talks with British Wrestling Experience Podcast: APPG Report discussion
Abuse in Ballet
Ballet students, as with many sports, start at a young age. Those focussing on such a career may attend specialist schools and spend hours alone with coaches forming strong bonds in the hope of progressing their career.
In the summer of 2020 a ballet school in Scotland became the centre of a probe into claims of ‘inappropriate sexual behaviour’ by staff member, Jonathan Barton, towards students.
Victims stated how the teacher targeted the quiet vulnerable girls. One victim confirmed how Barton would message her, which slowly increased to asking her to attend his room at night. Barton and the student entered a sexual relationship when she was just sixteen.
ITV News investigated and heard from more than sixty women alleging abuse going back as far as 2004 and as recently as 2018. This resulted in the resignation of Barton.
Again abuse in sport or these types of institutions require exposure and sufficient safeguarding measures to stop predators.
You can find more information in our podcast: HJ Talks About Abuse: Abuse in Ballet
Abuse in Swimming
Swimming is not immune to controversy and the sport contains some dark secrets. A case surrounding a former Olympic swimming coach trigger a report into the industry by the NSPCC. The charity researched 78 cases of alleged abuse over a 4 year period and found there was a significant minority of children and young people suffering sexual, emotional and verbal abuse at the hands of those in respected and powerful positions within the sport’.
USA Swimming was engulfed in scandal in 2010 when a television news investigation revealed myriad cases of sexual misconduct of various forms by coaches.
Cases uncovered included Andy King, a coach who was sentenced to 40 years in prison after authorities discovered a pattern of sexual abuse that stretched over three decades at clubs up and down the West Coast and involved more than a dozen teenaged female victims - one of whom said she had an abortion after he got her pregnant when she was 14.
Another case involved a coach who installed a secret camera to film young women swimmers showering.
While more than 100 coaches were eventually banned for life from working for USA Swimming-affiliated clubs, the federation was blasted for an inadequate response to complaints that in some cases allowed coaches to evade their accusers and authorities, moving to new cities and gaining coaching jobs at new clubs where they continued predatory behaviour.
King, who was sentenced in 2010, had passed a USA Swimming background screening in 2008es the large numbers of victim s and potential victims.
How can we help
If you’ve experienced sexual abuse as a result of your involvement in professional sport, you may want justice, compensation, or simply an apology. You may also want further advice and support.
Whether the sexual abuse suffered was by an individual or sports organisation, you deserve justice. Justice, for many people, this includes the compensation you may be entitled to. While compensation can't undo the experience of suffering abuse, it can help you start to move on with your life.
Whichever course of action you choose, our lawyers have many years’ experience of working with survivors of abuse, and will always have your best interests at heart. You’ll find us sensitive to your needs, expert at listening, and thoughtful and considered when explaining the options open to you.
Our team of specialist solicitors have helped many people secure sexual abuse compensation. One of our team can offer you a free consultation to give you advice on making a claim. We can meet you at home, in our office, or any location you choose – or we can talk on the phone if you prefer.
Please don't feel worried or embarrassed discussing your claim with one of us. We'll deal with your case with great care and attention, and completely confidentially, to help you achieve the justice you deserve.