British football sex abuse scandal: Ex-coach Bennell remanded in custody
Pedophile former football coach and scout Barry Bennell, who has been named as a suspect in the sex abuse scandal that has rocked British football, has been remanded in custody after appearing in court charged with child sex offenses.
Bennell, 62, appeared at South Cheshire Magistrates Court, UK, on Friday via videolink charged with five counts of indecent assault on a boy, two counts of inciting a boy to commit an act of gross indecency, and one count of assault with intent to commit buggery.
All charges relate to the same victim and allegedly happened between 1981 and 1985, when the boy was under the age of 15.
Bennell, who during his court appearance spoke only to confirm his name, date of birth and address, which he gave as ‘of no fixed abode’, will appear at Chester Crown Court on January 11.
The scandal emerged when former Crewe Alexandra player Andy Woodward came forward with allegations of abuse against former coach Bennell. He was then joined by fellow former professionals who corroborated his allegations and also spoke of other suspected abusers.
British charity the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) has received around 1,000 calls to a telephone hotline set up in response.
It is not the first time Bennell has faced legal proceedings regarding child sex abuse. He was imprisoned for nine years in 1998 for sexually abusing young football hopefuls.
He was also jailed in America when during a 1994 tour of the country with one youth team, a 13-year-old club player claimed that Bennell had sexually abused him.
Bennell was a highly respected coach in the 1970s, 80s and early 90s. He ran several feeder teams in the north west of England, including for English Premier League side Manchester City, which launched an investigation into his involvement with the club following the allegations.
He was most closely linked to Crewe Alexandra, but also had worked for Leeds United and Stoke City.
Dario Gradi, the director of football at Crewe and manager of the club from 1983 to 2007, was suspended from his post on Sunday by the FA, pending an investigation into claims he “smoothed over” complaints of abuse from a Chelsea youth player against another coach while working at the club.
Bennell’s arrest follows the news that former youth coach and Celtic kitman Jim McCafferty was arrested in Belfast, Northern Ireland, after confessing to sexually abusing young footballers.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino said there needs to be "zero tolerance" of child abuse in football, promising to investigate how the sport's governing body can prevent it happening.