Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Bob Higgins trial: Coach 'sexually aroused' during massages

Bob Higgins Image copyright Other
Image caption Ex-Southampton youth football coach Bob Higgins is accused of multiple counts of indecent assault against boys

A former professional football coach accused of indecently assaulting trainees has told a court he may have become sexually aroused while giving them soap-water massages.

Bob Higgins, 65, told Winchester Crown Court he "just carried on" when it happened.

Giving evidence, the former Southampton and Peterborough United coach denied that he "enjoyed" massaging naked boys.

He has pleaded not guilty to 50 indecent assault charges.

Under cross-examination, Mr Higgins was asked about one alleged victim who had previously claimed he felt Mr Higgins's arousal when the coach pressed against him during a massage.

"Did you have an erection?" prosecutor Adam Feest QC asked.

"Possibly. I might have done," Mr Higgins replied.

Asked why, the former coach responded: "Brushing past the body, I suppose."

Image copyright Julia Quenzler
Image caption Bob Higgins denies assaulting 24 teenage boys, mostly football club trainees, between 1971 and 1996

Mr Higgins said he may have become aroused with other boys but it was not a "common occurrence".

"The first time it happened, did you not think to stop what you were doing?" Mr Feest continued.

"Just carried on doing the massages," Mr Higgins said.

Mr Feest told the jury the defendant had "systematically abused young boys" for more than 20 years.

"You craved their love, their affection and their touch," he added.

"Your football career was to indulge that darker aspect of your character."

Mr Higgins replied "no" to each accusation.

The former coach is accused of assaulting 24 teenage boys between 1971 and 1996, most of them trainees at the two league clubs.

The charges arose after the NSPCC set up a helpline for victims of abuse in football, the court has previously heard.

The trial continues.

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