Child sexual abuse is a topic that society sweeps under the rug, even though the effects on its victims and their families are lifelong. When child sexual abuse happens within an organization’s purview, it is a huge liability for which many deny responsibility.
Director and former BBC broadcaster Adrian Goldberg covers the story of young Andrew Gray and other lads who suffered at the hands of Jim Torbett, founder of the Celtic Boys Club. As in other child sex abuse stories that have come to light in the USA, the UK, and the Catholic Church, the perpetrator abused many young boys over decades.
It appears that Celtic FC knew about earlier cases but kept it quiet and allowed perpetrator Torbett to return to his post later. In addition, it appears the senior and boys clubs were associated with as many as 6 perpetrators, chronicled here.
Goldberg handles the story very well, without sensationalism, so that the film is not one that you will turn away from. We hear from Andrew’s surviving sister Michelle Gray and their mother, and from other victims. The point is not just to hear their pain, but also to empathize with their search for justice.
Prevention is key
Today, many American youth sports annually require fingerprints and oaths of non-criminal records. In AYSO, coaches are taught to always have 2 adults in attendance and not to drive kids home. But of course, those are just procedures, and not every organization has the funds to implement and enforce standards.
In my research, it was shocking to discover that in 2017, Torbett was tracked down by BBC Scotland reporter Mark Daly and apprehended in Modesto, California. Modesto is a lower middle income city in California’s agricultural central valley. I wondered if Torbett went there to solicit soccer opportunities, citing his Celtic FC history. Also note that he had been able to enter the USA because he did not reveal his criminal record.
In the end, every parent bears the burden of being vigilant to protect their child. But regardless, every company that lends its brand to a youth organization has a responsibility to ensure that the people’s trust is not betrayed and that children are not endangered.
7 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 7