True extent of Hughes abuse “only just coming to light”

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True extent of Hughes abuse “only just coming to light”

7th May 2010

A number of young men who were subjected to years of sexual abuse at the hands of disgraced football chairman Ken Hughes have come forward in the days following his sentencing.

The lawyer representing some of the victims of the former Oldham Town FC chairman - who was jailed on Friday 30 April for a catalogue of offences against young boys - has revealed that she has been contacted by several others who say they too were abused by Hughes.

Angela Dobbs, a legal expert specialising in helping the victims of violent and sexual crimes, said she had received a number of calls after appealing for witnesses to come forward and help one of her clients in his fight for compensation for the injuries he sustained.

"We issued the witness appeal because my client is pursuing a claim through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority," said Miss Dobbs, a partner with Manchester law firm Fentons Solicitors LLP.

"As the CICA is a government scheme, the amount of damages we can hope to recover is limited, but if we can identify any assets Hughes may have we can bring a claim against him directly. This would improve the chances of obtaining an amount which better reflects the physical and emotional trauma caused to this victim," she said.

Her 22-year-old client was one of the many who endured appalling abuse at the hands of Hughes. In November last year, the young man - who suffers panic attacks and struggles to sleep because of what happened to him - plucked up the courage to tell police of the years of abuse he had suffered.

"But since making the appeal, I've received numerous calls from others who were abused in the same way as my client," said Miss Dobbs.

"Although Hughes was sentenced for 39 separate offences, at least one of the victims who contacted me has never reported the incident to the police," she said. "The sad truth is there could be many more like him out there, as the true extent of this despicable man's crimes begins to come to light."

Miss Dobbs said that although it was unlikely he would be prosecuted for any new offences, police could use any new information about other victims when Mr Hughes was considered for parole. "It's not too late for some of these victims to obtain a sense of closure, and hold Hughes to account for what he did to them," she said. "Even if they do not wish to report it to police, their information could still be of help to other victims."

Miss Dobbs added that although her first client was pleased with the outcome of the sentencing, his own personal fight for justice was only beginning. "Now others are coming forward to help him, and also tell their own stories of abuse," she said. "It has taken a long time for these young men to find the strength to talk about what happened to them, and we hope that the bravery they have shown in breaking their silence will inspire anyone who might be able to help to now come forward.

"These events caused unimaginable suffering to a great many people, and the victims are still living with the effects of what Hughes did to them," she said. "We desperately need help if we are going to succeed in winning justice on their behalf."

Can you help, or are you affected?
If you think you might be able to help, or if you too are affected and would like to discuss your situation, please contact Angela Dobbs at Fentons Solicitors LLP on 0161 684 6643. All information will be treated in the strictest confidence, and any detail could be hugely important to this case.