August 7 – Leading English Premier League club Chelsea have apologised for the “terrible past experiences” of some former youth players following a damning 252-page report into child sexual abuse at the club that has made headline news across the UK and shocked the country.
Eddie Heath, who coached Chelsea’s youth teams from 1968-1979, was found to be a “dangerous and prolific child abuser” whose conduct was “beyond reprehensible.”
Evidence from 23 witnesses detailed how ex-chief scout Heath, who died in 1983, groomed and abused young boys aged between 10 and 17 in the 1970s. Of the 23, 15 reported “serious and unambiguous sexual assaults”.
The report – led by barrister Charles Geekie QC – is also heavily critical of former Chelsea assistant manager Dario Gradi, who is accused of failing to tell more senior club staff about an allegation regarding the sexual conduct of Heath, brought to him by the parent of a young player.
An external review said some adults at Chelsea must have been aware of Heath’s abuse but “turned a blind eye”.
In a statement, Chelsea’s board apologised “unreservedly” and offered compensation to the victims
“The board wishes to thank all the survivors and witnesses who came forward to assist the reviews and the club apologises unreservedly for the terrible past experiences of some of our former players,” Chelsea said in a statement.
“It is evident that Heath was a dangerous and prolific child abuser. His conduct was beyond reprehensible. The report details how abuse was able to occur unchallenged, and the life-changing impact it had on those affected.”
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