Ex-youth player claims coach Bennell raped him

LONDON • British football coach Barry Bennell repeatedly raped and indecently assaulted a former youth player, a court heard on Thursday at his trial for a string of alleged offences.

Chris Unsworth, 45, said Bennell, 64, preyed on him after scouting him for Manchester City as a junior and the abuse began "straight away" after the defendant started driving him to the club's training ground.

Unsworth, who has waived his right to anonymity, appeared in the witness box at Liverpool Crown Court. The second of 11 complainants who will enter the witness box during the trial, he said the abuse started in the car with a game Bennell devised called "follow me".

"He would move his hands around your body on the outside of your clothes, tickle you, and you would have to do the same to him," Unsworth told the court.

But, he said, the game would keep going until his hands were "inside your shirt or inside your underpants".

Unsworth alleged that abuse also took place at Bennell's home. The "follow me" scenario would lead to the initiation of sexual activity and Bennell would allegedly often end up in bed in between two boys.

Unsworth alleged that sexual activity escalated and eventually led to Bennell raping him "about half a dozen times".

"The first time I will never forget it," he said. "I was just crying, the pain. It felt like it went on for hours but it was probably two or three minutes."

Bennell, who is appearing in court via video-link due to illness, is being tried on 48 counts of historical child sex abuse between 1979 and 1990. He denies the charges.

Jurors have heard Bennell is a convicted sex offender who has served prison sentences. He has pleaded guilty to seven counts of indecent assault related to his current trial.

The court was read a transcript of a police interview with Bennell conducted last February. He denied abusing Unsworth but admitted that he had stayed at his house and slept in his bed.

The trial, which opened on Monday, is expected to last eight weeks.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 13, 2018, with the headline 'Ex-youth player claims coach Bennell raped him'. Print Edition | Subscribe