Yesterday, convicted paedophile and prominent former Celtic Football Club employee Jim Torbett appeared at court to plead not guilty, as his second trial for sexual abuse of the club’s youth players is set to get underway.
Torbett was convicted in 1998 of abusing numerous youngsters over a period of decades, stretching as far back as 1966 when Torbett first began to coach the club’s youth teams.
Yet, the scandal was not limited Torbett. In fact, Torbett was the main protagonist in a paedophile ring which included 5 other employees – who will all stand (unfathomably separate) trials next month – 5 that we currently know about.
Indeed, the scandal goes right to the heart of the football club, founded by a Catholic priest – the Vatican which apparently operates as the world’s most prolific and powerful, paedophile ring.
Torbett was known to be close to the Kelly family, who owned the Irish footballing franchise during the period, as well as many other outside interests. One business, “The Trophy Centre” saw the Kellys and Torbett remain business partners after the revelations surfaced.
Jock Stein, the club’s greatest ever manager, sacked Torbett in the 70s as the rumours came to his attention. Yet his failure to alert the police, in order “to protect the good image of Celtic Football Club”, led to Torbett, sickeningly, being reemployed by Cetlic after Stein’s death, being allowed to abuse again well into the 90s.
Let’s just summarise that: They reemployed someone to coach their youth team, whom they knew had a history of abusing children in the club’s care.
Jock Stein still has a statue outside the stadium and a stand named after him. Clearly trophies were more important than the lives, hopes and dreams of the many young boys who dreamt of pulling on the famous green and white hoops.
Stein (centre) with notorious paedophile Jimmy Savile and a Catholic priest.
The rumours eventually caught up with Torbett who was convicted for paedophilia, after former boys club and Scotland striker Alan Brazil bravely told his story to the media. Torbett served a brief, 30 month prison spell.
Club legends were dragged through the court to testify, including legendary captain Billy McNeil who detailed the late Stein’s involvement.
Yet, neither the Kelly family nor the Celtic franchise itself were ever investigated. Leaving a bitter taste in the mouths of the countless other victims who were denied justice and the onlooking general public. It remained a sore at the heart of Scottish public life.
Celtic had hoped to sweep the rest under the carpet. Torbett was convicted, they had hoped to move on. But a harrowing BBC documentary reignited the anger, as new victims came forward detailing tortured tales of abuse at the hands of numerous club employees, all with the knowledge of the hierarchy. A victim has accused the club of criminal negligence,
Again however, shamefully, the looming trials are not only being treated as separate cases, but the club itself and the Kelly family continue to enjoy immunity from scrutiny. The press coverage is so scarce as to be negligible.
Kevin Kelly with Savile
This blog will cover the various trials involving former, prominent ex Celtic football club staff. The ramifications of the upcoming trials may be huge for the integrity of the Scottish game and the club itself – one of Scotland’s biggest institutions.
These are stories which simply need to be told. Not just in this trial, but in a wider investigation into the sexual deviancy at the very heart of Celtic over 4 decades. Every single victim must have their day in court. No institution is too big that it can be involved, with impunity, in the sexual abuse of children.