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Stewart goes public with sexual abuse ordeal

Former Liverpool, Tottenham and England forward Paul Stewart has accused a youth coach of sexually assaulting him from age 11 to 15.

Stewart told his story to the Daily Mirror in the hope that more victims of the unnamed man will come forward.

The revelations come after ex-Crewe Alexandra defender Andy Woodward waived his right to anonymity to tell the Guardian that Barry Bennell – a youth coach and subsequently convicted serial paedophile – abused him while underage during his time the club.

On Tuesday, another former Crewe player – midfielder Steve Walters – came forward to tell the newspaper he was also one of Bennell’s victims.

Stewart told the Mirror that his alleged abuser spoke to him about Bennell’s crimes in an attempt to legitimise his actions.

“He told me Barry was doing it to kids on a team we played. I think I was 12 or 13, he was trying to infer it was normal,” he said. “I have never met Andy Woodward, but I read [his story] at work and when I saw it, it was like reading my own life story.

“It brought a lot of issues up for me, and wanted people to know how difficult it was to come forward.”

Stewart explained how his family were threatened in order to keep him silent over his ordeal, that he highlighted as a reason for him suffering drug and alcohol problems.

“One day, travelling in the car, he started to touch me,” he said. “It frightened me to death, did not know what to do, I tried to tell my parents not to let him in but I was only 11.

“From then, it progressed to sexually abusing me, he said he would kill my mother, my father, my two brothers if I breathed a word about it. And at 11 years old, you believe that.

“The mental scars led me into other problems with drink and drugs. I know now it was a grooming process. The level of abuse got worse and worse.”

Earlier on Tuesday, six days on from Woodward going public regarding his abuse and the debilitating struggles that followed but before Walters’ story was published by the Guardian, Crewe issued a club statement.

“Crewe Alexandra Football Club appreciate that concern has been expressed about the delay in the club making any comment to recent media coverage,” it read.

“When things come out of the blue like this, you first want to make inquiries and reflect from within. That is the process we started last week.

“We are a proud football club and would always take any allegation seriously. Any form of abuse has no place in football or society.

“We have already concurred with the statements made by the Football Association, the Premier League and the Football League that described Andy Woodward’s ordeal as ‘heart breaking’ and praised him for his ‘immense courage.”

Wed 23 Nov, 2016
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