Celtic FC have released a statement after Celtic’s Boys Club founder Jim Torbett was jailed for a second time for sexually abusing young boys.
Torbett, 71, was found guilty after a trial at the High Court in Glasgow on Monday after denying the charges. Torbett was locked up for six years after a judge said he used the football team as a “recruiting ground” to prey on boys.
Torbett targeted two teenagers including one who worshipped him as a “hero”. The 71 year-old also abused a five year-old boy at a trophy business Torbett once owned in Glasgow’s southside.
In a statement released on their website Celtic said: “Following the conviction of Mr James Torbett at Glasgow Sheriff Court, Celtic Football Club wishes to express our deep regret that the incidents took place and sympathy for the victims who suffered abuse.
“We are grateful for the courage of those who have come forward to report abuse and to give evidence after such a long period of time.
“We have great respect for them and their families as they continue to cope with the distressing effects of the abuse they suffered.
“Allegations regarding abuse at Celtic Boys’ Club first emerged in the 1990s. Although Celtic Football Club is an entirely separate organisation, we have always taken these allegations extremely seriously because of our historic contacts with Celtic Boys’ Club.
“All investigations by the police and other inquiries were given our full support.
“We encouraged any individuals involved to report all information to the police so that matters could be investigated fully. Celtic Football Club continues to encourage any victim of abuse to report these crimes to the police.
“After the allegations became known in the 1990s, Celtic Football Club took steps to develop a new code of conduct and procedures to protect young people.
“Since then, Celtic Football Club has been at the leading edge of putting welfare and safeguarding protections in place for our young people.
“We were the first club in Scotland to appoint a safeguarding officer, developing policies for the protection of young people and monitoring and reviewing our procedures to ensure they continue to reflect best practice.
“The abuse of children is an issue affecting many areas of society, including a large number of football clubs, sports clubs, youth organisations, educational institutions and religious bodies across Britain.
“Celtic Football Club strongly believes that children and young people involved in football have the right to protection from all forms of harm and abuse and is committed to ensuring this and to promoting their wellbeing through continued cooperation with our children and young people, parents and carers and the relevant authorities.