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Chelsea Board apologize in person to Gary Johnson as The FA’s wider investigation continues

Chelsea v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

Former Chelsea youth player Gary Johnson, who was abused “hundreds of times” by former Chelsea chief scout Eddie Heath in the 1970s, has confirmed that he met for two hours in person with the Chelsea triumvirate of Granovskaia, Buck, and Tenenbaum, during which time the Chelsea directors apologized “in unison” for the club’s handling of the settlement last year, especially with respect to the confidentiality clause that was agreed upon by the lawyers.

“They apologised on behalf of the club, and the three of them said sorry in unison. They admitted they had made mistakes about the confidentiality clause and said they would not do that again.”

“They want me to help with their investigation into this and the on-going inquiry by the FA and of course I agreed.”

Johnson did earlier “reject” Chelsea’s written apology and statement, saying it was too little too late — which, unfortunately, by definition, it will always be. There is literally nothing the club can do to change the past, no words, no apology, no money, no anything can make up for the years of abuse and the decades of personal torment that followed.

“An apology is an apology. It cannot end more than 40 years of hurt for me and my family.”

-Gary Johnson; source: Mail

As with all the rest of these cases, as important as it is to bring the people responsible to justice, it’s just as important, if not more important to ensure that these things never happen again*.

In addition, former Chelsea assistant Dario Gradi, who’s also connected to the cases at his current job, Crewe Alexandra, is set to be questioned by The FA over his alleged role in “smoothing over” at least one instance of a complaint about Heath by another former youth player.

“Aside from denying any wrongdoing, it would be inappropriate and unfair on all parties to comment piecemeal through the media at this time in connection with historic[al] allegations.”

"Suffice to say, I will do everything within my power to assist all investigatory authorities into what is becoming a wide-ranging and important enquiry into historic[al] sexual abuse."

-Dario Gradi statement; source: BBC

Meanwhile, the case-count and the number of affected clubs continues to grow. Just in the last few days, there’s been revelations about abuse at Celtic, QPR, Leicester City, Aston Villa, Southampton, and probably others as well. There’s also been a report that at least four other Premier League clubs have paid out settlements akin to Chelsea’s deal with Johnson.

* On a somewhat related note, there’s a podcast series that finished airing just recently called In The Dark, which deals with the disappearance of 12-year-old Jacob Wetterling and the 27-year search for answers that ended just a couple months ago. Jacob’s mother, Patty, who became an advocate for child safety in the meantime and is the current chair of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, talks poignantly in multiple episodes (but especially in ep.6: Stranger Danger) about her shifting perspective on how to best deal with sex offenders. Back in 1994, she was one of the primary moving forces behind the Jacob Wetterling Act, which, in part, led to the creation of the national sex offender registry in the United States. But, as she points out, the registry would not have identified her son’s abductor at the time and now she believes that the primary emphasis should be and should have been on awareness, education, and other preventative measures instead.

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