Sunday 4 December 2016

Chelsea Apologises To Youth Team Player Gary Johnson Over Sex Abuse


Chelsea Football Club has "apologised profusely'' to Gary Johnson who was sexually abused while a youth team player at the London club in the 1970s.

In a statement, Chelsea said Mr Johnson "suffered unacceptably" and that it had "no desire to hide any historic abuse we uncover from view".

On Friday, 57-year-old Mr Johnson said he was paid £50,000 by the Premier League club not to go public with allegations that he was sexually abused by the club's former chief scout Eddie Heath.

Earlier this week it was reported that Chelsea made a payment to an individual in the last three years following allegations regarding Heath. Johnson waived his anonymity to say he was the former player in question.

Mr Johnson, who was a member of Chelsea's first team from 1978 to 1981, but joined the club as an 11-year-old in 1970 and claimed he had been groomed from the age of 13 by Heath, told the Daily Mirror: "I think that they were paying me to keep a lid on this."

On Saturday, the club said an external review would examine whether it carried out a proper investigation when the allegations first came to light, and why it did not report them to the Football Association and Premier League.

"We are fully committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of all children and young people who are in our care or attending our premises. Their welfare is of paramount importance," the club said.

Chelsea said on Tuesday it had appointed an external law firm to carry out a formal investigation into a former employee, but refused to comment on any of the details.

Speaking to the Mirror, Mr Johnson detailed the abuse he suffered, and said he was aware of other victims of Heath who had not yet come forward.

He told the paper: "Millions of fans around the world watch Chelsea. They are one of the biggest and richest clubs in the world.

"All their fans deserve to know the truth about what went on. I know they asked me to sign a gagging order and how many others are there out there?

"They may have paid others for their silence. I hope and pray no clubs are allowed to cover this up - no one should escape justice."

Heath worked for the club between 1968 and 1979, he died before the allegations were made.

Seventeen British police forces have confirmed they are investigating fresh allegations of historic abuse in football. A Greater Manchester Police investigation has received reports from 35 people and has identified 10 suspects, the force said.

On Thursday it was revealed that a dedicated NSPCC helpline for football received 860 calls in its first week.



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