Help us get justice for survivors of child sex abuse

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When I was 13 I was filled with hope of becoming a professional footballer. I joined Southampton Football Club hoping to make my dreams a reality - instead it turned into a nightmare. I was sexually abused by coach Bob Higgins and made to suffer in silence. This year he was finally convicted of dozens of sex attacks on teenage boys - almost 30 years after he first abused me. 

I gave evidence in the trial against him - but I was not one of the people for whom he was convicted. This is because when myself and 5 other boys first made allegations against him 30 years ago he was acquitted - and the double jeopardy laws in this country protected him from being tried again for his crimes against us. 

The double jeopardy laws in England and Wales mean that you cannot be retried for the same criminal offences, unless it is (1) an offence that is “serious” or “severe” and therefore an exception to the law and (2) if there is new and compelling evidence and it is in the public interest. In respect of sexual offences, the Government thinks that only rape should be an exception. All forms of sexual abuse against children should be appreciated as being serious and severe enough to be an exception to this law - otherwise paedophiles like Higgins will be protected by it.

I have had to deal with double trauma - not just from the abuse itself, but from this failure of the legal system which means I will never get criminal justice. This is something that has followed me my whole life and affected all my relationships. After nearly 30 years it is something that I will never fully get over. 

After Higgins was acquitted of abusing myself and the 5 other boys who raised the case against him in the early 1990s, he was able to go back to coaching other young boys like I was at the time. This is why it is so important that in cases of child abuse that defendants can be tried again. 

I fought back the tears when I saw Higgins was finally put behind bars this year. But we have suffered too long without justice, and my case should have been one of those that he has to spend time in prison for. 

We have been forgotten and have been denied our opportunity for justice. Take a stand with us, the #forgotten6, and sign this petition so other children don’t have to suffer the way we have.