Why facing their abuser in Court is vital for some who suffered child abuse.

13 Aug 2019

Today in the press it had been reported that child abuser Barry Bennell has been found unconscious and has been admitted to hospital, after what Thames Valley police force are calling a ‘fear for welfare incident’. Stephanie Prior, Head of Child Abuse Claims at Osbornes talks about why facing an abuser in Court is so vital for some who suffered abuse as a child.

It reminds me of many years ago when a child abuse victim I was acting for was due to give evidence in criminal proceedings against his child abuser. The stress, anxiety and the ill health he suffered leading up to the day of the criminal proceedings was incomprehensible. He was the lead witness against his abuser and 10 others had been called to give evidence too.

Unfortunately that day in Court did not materialise as his abuser, the evening before commencement of the criminal proceedings took an overdose of insulin and fell into a coma never to recover. More importantly he never faced his victims and stood trial for his crimes.

My client suffered further psychological injury as he was not able to stand up to his abuser in court as an adult, having been abused as a child.

He did proceed with a civil claim and did receive compensation but the most important thing for him was to stand up to his abuser and see his abuser stand trial for his crimes. The compensation very rarely can repair years and years of psychological injury pain and trauma and it is very rare indeed that claims are made because of the compensation.

Andy Woodward, Steve Walters, Paul Stewart, David White, Chris Unsworth, Jason Dunford and Ian Ackley have shown great courage to speak publicly for the first time about the appalling abuse they suffered at the hands of Bennell.

In doing this they have encouraged more victims, of both Bennell and other currently unnamed abusers to come forward. In doing this they have rightly forced the Football Association to investigate sexual abuse in football. Others have predicted that similar investigations will also take place in different sports.

Over the coming days more information will come out on Bennell’s condition, which will reveal whether or not his victims will be able to stand up to him in Court and finally see him be punished for the crimes he has committed.

To speak with Stephanie Prior in confidence call us on 020 7485 8811 or e-mail stephanieprior@osbornes.net

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