The escalating story of sexual abuse in football is now threatening to take in Newcastle United after a former player contacted the police to allege he was another victim on the back of growing concerns about a possible paedophile ring in the sport.
The ex-player, whose identity is known to the Guardian, has named George Ormond as the offender, claiming that he was sexually abused by a man who has already had a six-year prison sentence for a string of convictions involving boys from the club’s youth system over a 24-year period.
The complainant has been inspired to report the alleged abuse after the Guardian brought to light abuse suffered by former players elsewhere. That began when the former Crewe Alexandra defender Andy Woodward waived his right to anonymity last week to reveal the harrowing accounts of the sexual abuse he endured from the coach, scout and serial paedophile Barry Bennell. Another former Crewe player, Steve Walters, followed suit to tell the Guardian a story of disturbing similarity.
David White, best known for his long association at Manchester City, has subsequently come forward to reveal he was another of Bennell’s victims and another former England international, Paul Stewart, has said he was targeted by a separate man who was working in junior football in the Manchester area.
A spokesman for Northumbria Police told the Guardian: “We have received a report in relation to an allegation of historic [sic] sexual offences in Newcastle. We are working closely with, and supporting, the victim and enquiries are ongoing.” Ormond was branded a “predatory abuser” by the judge at Newcastle crown court when he was imprisoned, aged 46, in 2002 at the end of a trial that heard how a man once regarded as a highly respected coach in youth circles used his standing to bring youngsters under his power.
His case has similarities in that respect with Bennell’s time as a youth-team coach at Crewe and White’s ordeal at Whitehill FC, a junior team affiliated to Manchester City. Bennell, who also had links with Stoke City, coached sides in Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Staffordshire and Derbyshire, but it is only now that the full extent of his crimes is becoming apparent.
Woodward believes there could be hundreds of victims and a new NSPCC hotline for footballers, opened with the support of the Football Association, received more than 50 calls in the first two hours.
Wayne Rooney, the England and Manchester United player and an NSPCC ambassador, said: “It’s awful that some of my colleagues have suffered this way whilst playing the sport that I and they love. Andy has been really brave to come forward and I would encourage anyone who has or is suffering from abuse to call the NSPCC’s new football helpline. It’s important that people know that it’s ok to speak out, there is help available and that they don’t need to suffer in silence.”
Last week two other former players, speaking to the Guardian, independently named another man from the football world who had abused them, and Cheshire police reported on Wednesday that 11 people had contacted them to talk about the Bennell case. The Guardian is aware of many others who have been abused but chosen not to come forward, including one case where the victim has decided it would be too upsetting for his elderly mother to find out.
Ormond denied 15 charges of indecent assault on seven boys, five of whom were under the age of 16, between 1975 and 1999. He was convicted of 12 indecent assaults and one attempted indecent assault after having earlier been acquitted of the other attacks on the directions of the judge.
The police investigation into his crimes began after one of the victims secretly recorded a conversation between them, more than a decade after the attacks, and Ormond could be heard apparently apologising. The court was told that Ormond, who argued he was the victim of a conspiracy among his accusers, was “wholly preoccupied with sex” and carried out his attacks at various locations including youth-club changing rooms, his car and at the homes of some victims.
Sentencing Ormond, the judge, Esmond Faulks, told him: “The evidence demonstrates you were a predatory abuser of young boys. You used your position as a football coach to target vulnerable young children. You ingratiated yourself with their parents and prevented disclosure by the power you wielded over them as their coach.”
• The NSPCC’s hotline is 0800 023 2642 and Child Line for children and young people can be contacted on 0800 1111.
• NAPAC, the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, can be contacted on 0808 801 0331.
• In the UK, The Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14.