Dario Gradi ‘did not consider a person putting their hands down another’s trousers to be assault’


Dario Gradi ‘did not consider a person putting their hands down another’s trousers to be assault’, says review into child sexual abuse scandal in English football… but ex-Crewe boss ESCAPES major criticism in bombshell report

  • Clive Sheldon QC’s long-awaited report into English football’s child sexual abuse scandal was finally released on Wednesday
  • Dario Gradi escapes major criticism, barring a section in which he is interviewed about an incident involving then Chelsea head scout Eddie Heath
  • In it, he says he ‘did not consider a person putting their hands down another’s trousers to be assault’
  • READ: The FA put children at risk by FAILING to ban two serial paedophiles 

Dario Gradi ‘did not consider a person putting their hands down another’s trousers to be assault’, according to a new bombshell report into English football’s child sex abuse scandal.

A long-awaited 710-page review by Clive Sheldon QC was released on Wednesday, in which it was found that the Football Association put children at risk by failing to ban two serial predatory paedophiles.

While the report is damning, Gradi himself escapes major criticism – barring section 9.6.154, which quotes the former Crewe manager as not considering ‘a person putting their hands down another’s trousers’ to be assault. 

Ex-Crewe boss Dario Gradi is a subject of the report, but there was no major criticism of him

Ex-Crewe boss Dario Gradi is a subject of the report, but there was no major criticism of him

Gradi (left, at Crewe alongside Barry Bennell) was interviewed in the report and detailed that he 'did not consider a person putting their hands down another's trousers to be assault'

Gradi (left, at Crewe alongside Barry Bennell) was interviewed in the report and detailed that he ‘did not consider a person putting their hands down another’s trousers to be assault’ 

The author of the report, Sheldon QC, interviewed Gradi in person, which he details in section nine and describes an incident which occurred during his time at Chelsea in the early 1970s with scout Eddie Heath.

One survivor, who is named only as ‘VS’ in the report, stated that ‘when he was in the pavilion at the Mitcham training ground, Heath grabbed him from behind and “ran his hands all over, caressing my chest under my shirt”.

VS recalled Heath telling him, “Close your eyes and you wouldn’t know if this was a man or a woman.”‘

After receiving a complaint from the young player’s father, Gradi visited their home and recalled to Sheldon QC that the father ‘repeatedly said to him that he did not want to get Heath into trouble.’

According to Gradi, that ‘set the tone’ that he wasn’t going to take the incident further, but he understood it to have been ‘inappropriate’.

Gradi speaks about a complaint of sexual assault by then-Chelsea scout Eddie Heath (centre)

Gradi speaks about a complaint of sexual assault by then-Chelsea scout Eddie Heath (centre)

Sheldon's (pictured) damning report has been released four years on from its commission

Sheldon’s (pictured) damning report has been released four years on from its commission

Gradi has always denied any wrongdoing when he was spoken to about the child abuse cases

Gradi has always denied any wrongdoing when he was spoken to about the child abuse cases 

The front page of Clive Sheldon QC's explosive 710-page report, released today

The front page of Clive Sheldon QC’s explosive 710-page report, released today

The conversation then turned to the ‘scope of allegations of abuse generally’, where Gradi made the claim about ‘putting hands down another’s trousers’ not being an assault. When Sheldon QC informed him that it was, he then accepted it.   

Gradi is currently suspended from football, and was the man who recruited Barry Bennell at Crewe. The report also includes sections of a witness statement Bennell gave in a civil proceedings case against the club in 2003. 

In the statement, Bennell says that the suggestion that nobody at the club ‘knew or suspected that sexual abuse was being perpetrated is ridiculous’.

He adds: ‘I cannot imagine why I was not told to stop in view of the complaints made. That said however, with what I know now, and the fact that Dario Gradi had many boys staying at his house which I believe he continues to have, then it is not surprising at all.’ 

Sheldon, however, says: ‘Ultimately, I have decided that Bennell’s account cannot be relied upon’. Gradi also told the inquiry that Bennell’s claims were false.  

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