Celtic Express 'Deep Regret' Following Jim Torbett Abuse Conviction

7 November 2018, 14:40

Football Stadiums Celtic Park

Celtic has said it has "deep regret" over historical child sex offences carried out by Jim Torbett.

 

The 71-year-old was involved in setting up Celtic Boys Club and was jailed for six years this week for sexually abusing three boys over eight years in the 1980s and 1990s.

The High Court in Glasgow heard how his "depraved conduct" blighted the lives of the youngsters he targeted, two of whom he met through the boys club.

Celtic said it has always taken the allegations "extremely seriously because of our historic contacts with Celtic Boys Club".

The club was not formally affiliated with Celtic FC and Torbett was not an employee, but some victims had called for an apology from the senior club since Torbett's conviction on Monday.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Celtic said: "Following the conviction of Mr James Torbett at Glasgow Sheriff Court (sic), Celtic Football Club wishes to express our deep regret that the incidents took place and sympathy for the victims who suffered abuse.

"We are grateful for the courage of those who have come forward to report abuse and to give evidence after such a long period of time. We have great respect for them and their families as they continue to cope with the distressing effects of the abuse they suffered.

"Allegations regarding abuse at Celtic Boys Club first emerged in the 1990s. Although Celtic Football Club is an entirely separate organisation, we have always taken these allegations extremely seriously because of our historic contacts with Celtic Boys Club.

"All investigations by the police and other inquiries were given our full support. We encouraged any individuals involved to report all information to the police so that matters could be investigated fully. Celtic Football Club continues to encourage any victim of abuse to report these crimes to the police."

Celtic said a code of conduct and procedures to protect young people was created when the allegations became known in the 1990s.

The statement added: "Celtic Football Club strongly believes that children and young people involved in football have the right to protection from all forms of harm and abuse, and is committed to ensuring this and to promoting their wellbeing through continued co-operation with our children and young people, parents and carers and the relevant authorities."

The High Court in Glasgow heard Torbett had past convictions for sexually abusing three boys in the late 1960s and early 1970s, for which he was jailed for two years in 1998.

Judge Lord Beckett said: "Your involvement in setting up and organising the activities of youth football in Celtic Boys Club might in other circumstances have appeared public-spirited and commendable.

"However, what this case has shown is that you used the club as a front and a recruiting ground for boys who you could sexually abuse.

"The love which young boys have for the game of football, their competitive spirit, their dreams of playing professionally and perceived association with Celtic Football Club, which is a revered institution for a significant part of the population, gave you substantial power over the boys whom you coached.

"You groomed boys and contrived situations when you could abuse them.

"Yours was some of the most corrupting behaviour I have heard of in these courts."

Asked about the issue, Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers said: "The club have made a statement on that and that is as far as I would say on it.

"It sits outside of me of course.

"There is, always, my empathy and sympathy for victims of any charge against anyone, but certainly from the club's perspective they have made a statement on that and at this moment it's all I would say."