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CRIME

Former FC Barcelona youth coach accused of sexual abuse

A senior La Masia youth coach, Albert Benaiges, is being investigated in relation to multiple complaints of sexual abuse at a public school where he taught, Spanish police said Tuesday.

Benaiges was also a key member of Barcelona's youth training academy, known as La Masia, from 1991-2011
Benaiges was a key member of Barcelona's youth training academy, known as La Masia, from 1991 to 2011. Photo: ULISES RUIZ / AFP

Catalonia’s regional police force, Mossos d’Esquadra, has received “several” formal complaints against Benaiges, a spokesman for the force told AFP, without providing further details.

“An investigation has been opened, the affair is not closed and police expect to receive a certain number of complaints,” he added.

Catalan newspaper Ara reported Friday that over 60 of Benaiges’s former students have accused him of sexually abused students while he was a physical education teacher at their public school in Barcelona. The complaints are from alleged victims of the abuse or former students who say they witnessed it.

Among the accusations levelled against Benaiges are claims that he showed children pornographic videos, exposed himself, touched children and made them undress in front of classmates.

The alleged abuse took place in the showers and gym of the school where he taught physical education for 38 years until 2010, as well as at his home and at camps.

Contacted by Ara, the 71-year-old denied the allegations.

Benaiges was also a key member of Barcelona’s youth training academy, known as La Masia, from 1991-2011, coinciding with a generation of the club’s best players, including Andres Iniesta.

After leaving the club in 2011, Benaiges went on to work abroad for several years, including spells in Mexico, the United Arab Emirates and the Dominican Republic.

He rejoined FC Barcelona’s youth academy earlier this year after Joan Laporta was re-elected as the club’s president in March.

Benaiges left the club earlier this month. Ara reported that he parted ways with Barcelona the day after the club became aware of the paper’s investigation.

“This gentleman does not work for Barcelona anymore for personal reasons,” Laporta said Saturday when asked about the affair.

“We are collecting all available information on the subject, and when we have it, we will make an official statement,” he added.

The following day, Laporta expressed his “total support for all possible victims who have suffered these reprehensible acts.”

“FC Barcelona is working with the Mossos d’Esquadra to shed light and establish whether any of these events occurred within our stablishment.”

In February 2019 Atletico Madrid severed its ties with the man who ran their youth academy after he admitted sexually abusing a boy in his charge in the 1970s at a school where he worked.

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CRIME

Spanish mother jailed for falsely accusing ex-husband of child abuse

A Spanish court has jailed a woman for five years for repeatedly filing false reports about her ex-husband sexually abusing their daughter.

Spanish mother jailed for falsely accusing ex-husband of child abuse

According to El Mundo daily, the sentence was unprecedented in Spain.

In a ruling handed down by a court in the southern city of Granada which was seen by AFP on Wednesday, the unnamed woman was convicted of filing false allegations, offences against moral integrity and abandonment of parental responsibility.

She was also ordered to pay €40,000 ($42,000) each to the child and her father for the harm caused by her unfounded allegations, which were aimed at securing sole custody of her daughter, now nine.

The court also took away the mother’s parental responsibility for 10 years on grounds she posed “a threat to (her daughter’s) development”, according to court documents dated Monday.

The woman had filed eight reports to the police and the courts over a two-year period, accusing her husband of abuse and on one occasion rape as they were in the throes of getting divorced.

She also took her daughter to be examined by doctors and psychologists on 10 separate occasions.

None of them ever found any evidence of the alleged abuse.

The ongoing gynaecological and psychological examinations had an impact on the child’s “psychological stability and her performance at school”, according to the court documents.

The aim was to “obtain the sole and exclusive custody” of their daughter.

The sentence, which can be appealed, described the mother as a person with a predisposition for “lying” who displayed “shameless cynicism” and “cunning malice with obsessive overtones”.

The couple married in 2010 and had a daughter in 2012. But they split up in 2017 and the problems began a year later when the father, an English teacher, requested joint custody.

After his ex-wife began filing the false allegations against him, he lost most of his students along with his “emotion stability, peace of mind and sense of calm”, the court found.

“It’s like being buried alive,” he told El Mundo.

“It’s trying to kill someone without laying a finger on them… accusing them of the vilest, worst thing that a human being can do: harming your own daughter.”

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