first_img Crewe under fire after telling Bennell victim he waited too long to report abuse Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on WhatsApp Read more Pinterest news Share on Facebook Share on Pinterest Crewe’s legal argument is that it is for the relevant players to prove “the alleged sexual assaults (being not admitted)” happened on the club’s watch. Legal documents submitted on Crewe’s behalf state that Railway Juniors – a feeder team, according to the players’ legal representatives – was set up by parents and run independently, even though the club acknowledge supplying the kit.Bennell, according to Crewe, must have had “personal arrangements” with the parents to let boys stay overnight.The club say there is no record of them paying Bennell to accommodate players that way. “The fact [Bennell] may have deceived the players’ parents about the underlying purpose of these stays is nothing to the point,” Crewe’s legal defence adds.Dino Nocivelli, an associate solicitor at Bolt Burdon Kemp, which is representing the players, told the Guardian: “It is disappointing when defendants such as Crewe Alexandra look to take limitation as a technical point. It is commonly accepted that it takes survivors years to be able to disclose their abuse, if at all. I would like defendants in all abuse cases to recognise the inappropriateness of raising a limitation defence and the impact this has on survivors as it only serves to add substantial insult to the injuries that have been inflicted by the abuse.” Crewe Alexandra are taking on Barry Bennell’s victims in the high court by claiming it was the parents, not the club, who let boys stay overnight with the man who has been described as “an industrial-scale child molester” and is serving a 31-year prison sentence.Crewe, the Guardian can reveal, have also begun preparing for a number of civil claims by bringing in specialist lawyers – appointed on behalf of the club by the Football League’s insurers – who have defended a child sex abuse claim relating to the Roman Catholic church. Facebook Twitter Barry Bennell, according to Crewe, must have had ‘personal arrangements’ with the parents to let boys stay overnight. Photograph: PAcenter_img Share on Twitter Barry Bennell The explanation from one player, who was abused from the age of 11 to 14, is that he was shamed into silence, fearful of the distress it would cause his family and frightened that, if he spoke out, it would end his chances of a football career. He was taunted by his teammates because of his apparent closeness to Bennell and had never been able to disclose what had happened to anyone, apart from close family, until another victim, Andy Woodward, waived his anonymity by speaking to the Guardian in November 2016.Crewe say that is not satisfactory. “There is no, or no adequate, explanation,” the club’s barrister, Nicholas Fewtrell, responds in an eight-page written defence. “In particular, this is not a case where the claimant was … disabled from commencing proceedings by any psychological injuries that he had suffered. On the contrary [he] disclosed the alleged abuse to his parents in 1991/92 and to his wife in or about 2005. Yet [he] did not instruct his present solicitors until August 2017.” The delay, according to Crewe’s legal team, means “it would not be possible … to disentangle the effect of the alleged abuse from the effects of the claimant’s other damaging life experiences.”The second player, who was 13 when Bennell abused him, still suffers flashbacks more than 30 years on and, according to a consultant psychiatrist, the abuse has had such a “major, long-lasting effect … even with treatment it will continue to affect him indefinitely”. That player also says he was too ashamed and fearful of the consequences to speak up as a teenager. Crewe say that is not a reasonable explanation.Now 65, Bennell is serving his fourth prison sentence as well as facing the possibility of another criminal trial involving at least nine complainants. At least 97 people have reported him – a figure not updated since January 2018 – on the back of Woodward’s interview and in the vast majority of cases it relates to Bennell’s time at Crewe or, previously, when he was a coach and scout in Manchester City’s junior network. City are also facing a number of high court claims and, without accepting liability, have launched an optional “survivors’ scheme” to offer their former players out-of-court settlements. Pinterest Facebook Topics Share via Email In legal documents seen by this newspaper Crewe set out their reasons for denying liability for Bennell’s crimes, arguing that the club should not have to pay damages and that it would be “quite impossible” to have a fair trial relating to events from the 1980s and 1990s. Bennell’s crimes, according to Crewe, were “not committed in the course of his duties” as the club’s youth-team coach.In the first cases of their kind since Bennell was convicted last year of 50 specimen charges relating to 12 boys, aged eight to 14, from 1979 to 1991, two of his victims have lodged claims for at least £200,000 in damages after being left with post-traumatic stress disorder, alcohol issues, depression and, in one case, having to be talked out of a suicide attempt by a police negotiator. Crewe’s response in both cases is that the club are not liable for any psychological damage caused by the trauma or “the consequence of other life choices made by the claimant [player] which had not worked out as he had hoped or which he now otherwise regrets”.Legal papers show:• Crewe claim that when boys stayed overnight with Bennell it was because of arrangements he must have had with the parents, rather than anything organised via the club.• The club want the case to be thrown out under the 1980 Limitation Act on the grounds there is “no adequate explanation” why Bennell’s victims did not launch action earlier.• Crewe deny Railway Juniors – a team coached by Bennell, wearing the club’s official kit and training on adjacent pitches to the stadium – had anything to do with the club, other than occasionally supplying the team’s strips.Crewe are using the law firm Keoghs to represent them and Ian Carroll, a legal director in its Liverpool office, has signed the documents on behalf of the club. Carroll is described on the Legal 500 website as a specialist in abuse cases who “does ‘first-class’ work in this area, especially in religious claims”. He is also recognised as an expert in limitation, the legal term for arguing that long delays can prejudice court cases, and used this last year while successfully defending a case involving alleged abuse by a now-deceased teacher, Michael Riddle, at a Roman Catholic seminary in the 1970s.The issue of limitation also features prominently in Crewe’s defence, which argues that the players should have reported the abuse within three years. “While [Bennell] is still alive and potentially able to give evidence, other witnesses who might have been able to assist the defendant [Crewe], even if still alive and traceable, could not reasonably be expected to have any reliable recollection.” Andy Woodward waived his anonymity to tell the Guardian he had been abused by Barry Bennell. Photograph: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian Crewe Alexandra Share on Messenger Reuse this contentlast_img

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