Chelsea FC accused of paying child sex abuse victim to keep quiet
شنبه 13 آذر 11:53
The child sex abuse scandal that has rocked the English football world has taken a new twist after a former player accused one of the world's biggest clubs of buying his silence.
Gary Johnson, a player with Chelsea during the 1970s and 1980s, alleges the Premier League club paid him £50,000 and asked him to sign a confidentiality agreement last year to prevent any talk of his alleged abuse by former scout Eddie Heath.
Johnson, now 57, says Heath, who has since died, abused him sexually from the age of 13 and, during an interview with the English newspaper The Daily Mirror, he accuses Chelsea of trying to cover up the story.
"I think that they were paying me to keep a lid on this," he told the newspaper.
"Millions of fans around the world watch Chelsea. They are one of the biggest and richest clubs in the world," he continued.
"according to rapporteur report from CNN, link ,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?"
He added, "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. We need total transparency now for the good of the game."
On Tuesday, Chelsea said it had started an investigation into allegations concerning an individual who worked at the club during the 1970s who is no longer alive.
CNN requested comment from Chelsea on the specific allegations made by Johnson but has yet to receive a reply.
But in a statement posted to their website Tuesday, the club said: "Chelsea Football Club has retained an external law firm to carry out an investigation concerning an individual employed by the club in the 1970s, who is now deceased."
The club also said it has contacted the English Football Association, known simply as the FA, "to ensure that all possible assistance is provided as part of their wider investigation. This will include providing the FA with any relevant information arising out of the club's investigation."
The statement goes on to say the club will make no further comment on the matter while the investigation is ongoing.
READ: Hundreds come forward to police
More victims come forward
Johnson broke his story 24 hours after police had revealed that 350 people had come forward to report allegations of child sexual abuse within the football community over the past week.
Martin Glenn, chief executive of the English Football Association, told a press conference Thursday that clubs who may have sought to prevent victims from speaking out by paying them will face sanctions.
"We've committed to a full review, shining the light on what happened in the past in football," he told reporters at a press conference
"We have clear rules in the game and if there's any evidence of a breach of those -- and hushing up would be one -- subject to due process, the police need to be at the right place in this. When it's our turn to apply the rules, we absolutely will, regardless of size of club."
When questioned about the possible existence of non-disclosure agreements and gagging orders, Glenn added: "I can't say if there has been a cover-up in the game [but] I doubt it."
Seventeen police forces across England, Scotland and Wales have announced they have launched investigations while Greater Manchester police says it has identified 10 suspects.
A hotline set up to help victims of the child sex abuse scandal rocking English football has received 860 calls for help in its first week.
The service, established by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), says its staff made 60 referrals to the police and social services in the first three days alone.
Johnson, who was part of the Chelsea first team between 1978-81, outlined the abuse he said he suffered at the hands of Heath, who worked for Chelsea from 1968 to 1979, telling the newspaper that the abuse started when he was 13 or 14 and lasted for three or four years. He said that there were other boys involved and that he expected others to come forward.