The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is due to be formally introduced in Parliament today. One of the measures is a law expanding the prevention of adults in ‘positions of trust’ from engaging in sexual relationships with young people under the age of 18.
Under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (‘SOA’) it is at present illegal for certain professionals, including teachers, social workers and doctors, to engage in sexual activity with a 16 or 17 year old because they are considered to be in a position of trust in relation to the young person. Sports coaches and religious leaders, for example, have not however previously been included within this category of professionals. This will change under the new legislation.
It has been announced that the BBC is to air a three-part series on football’s child sexual abuse scandal, directed by Daniel Gordon, the director of the acclaimed 2014 documentary, ‘Hillsborough’.
Titled ‘Football’s Darkest Secret’, the series will examine the abuse in youth football which took place across the UK in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.
The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has this week published its report into abuse within sport in Japan. The report is titled ‘I was hit so many times I can’t count’ and details the study’s findings: that child athletes in Japan have routinely suffered physical abuse from their coaches. The report comes in the week that would have marked the start of the Tokyo Olympics had it not been for the COVID-19 global pandemic which has delayed the games by one year.
‘Athlete A’ is Netflix’s recently released documentary which focuses on the sexual abuse scandal at USA Gymnastics (‘USAG’), perpetrated by Dr Larry Nassar, a former team doctor, under the guise of medical procedures. Nassar was accused of sexually assaulting over 250 women and girls dating back to 1992. The documentary explores the investigation by the Indianapolis Star which culminated in the conviction and sentencing of Nassar in 2018; the response of USAG to reports of sexual abuse; and the culture within USAG which enabled Nassar to continue to commit sexual assaults for a considerable length of time.
IICSA has recently published a Truth Project thematic report that focuses on child sexual abuse within sport. The report follows a detailed, qualitative analysis of victim and survivor experiences of child sexual abuse in sport to identify themes and inform future recommendations.
It has been reported that Aston Villa and Leicester City have settled sexual abuse claims concerning five victims of a football scout, Ted Langford, who worked as a part-time football scout in the Midlands in the 1970s and 1980s.
It is understood that the settlements were reached just a matter of weeks before the matters were due to be heard by the High Court.
The Offside Trust, the organisation set up in the wake of the football abuse scandal, which aims to work alongside football clubs to enhance safeguarding, has this week claimed that at least 80 sports coaches have been convicted of child sexual abuse in the past two years.
It has been reported in the press that the Football Association’s independent Inquiry into historical allegations of sexual abuse has found no evidence of organised institutional abuse or a cover-up. The Inquiry, headed by Clive Sheldon QC, was launched in December 2016, following numerous high profile allegations of sexual abuse, and the final report is expected to be delivered to the Football Association in September 2018. It is understood that the Inquiry team has to date interviewed 35 survivors of abuse and another 70 people who were involved in the sport at the relevant time. It is also understood that the Inquiry team has had access to around 13,000 documents. The final report is still expected to be critical and to find failings by both individuals and football clubs themselves. The Inquiry team is now writing to a number of institutions and individuals to give them advance warning of the contents of the final report so that they may have the opportunity to respond prior to the report being finalised. Continue reading
There have been a number of developments this month in respect of alleged abuse within sport. Continue reading
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) recently published its quarterly statistics. Its thirteen investigations and research projects cover a wide range of themes and organisations but one which is missing is that of sport. Football in the UK, gymnastics in the USA are but two sports which have been significantly impacted this year by criminal trials in connection with non-recent sexual abuse. Notwithstanding the lack of any formal focus on sport by IICSA football is a focus for a number of its own inquiries. Continue reading