Olympic Judo coach barred for sex abuse

By Martin Delgado

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

A former Olympic judo coach has been thrown out of the sport after a disciplinary panel found that he sexually abused children in his care.

Yet the agency responsible for preventing sex offenders and paedophiles from having contact with young people has cleared him to work with children again.

Alan Roberts, who trained Olympic double medallist Kate Howey, was banned from coaching for life and stripped of honorary awards. But the decision by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) to let him still work with children has shocked his victims and angered senior figures in the sport.

Roberts, who is retired, played a central role in British judo for more than 40 years. But he is in disgrace after a British Judo Association (BJA) adjudication panel chaired by a leading barrister, Matthew Ryder QC, heard evidence from five alleged victims during a week-long hearing last year.

The tribunal's unpublished report found that Roberts carried out a series of assaults on young judo enthusiasts between the early 1970s and December 2003.

Two of them were under 16.

Roberts, 68, from Sheerness, Kent, denies any wrongdoing, but the 52-page report says: 'The complaints against Mr Roberts are serious. He manipulated his position, influence and experience for the purposes of his own sexual gratification. He did so by taking advantage of the vulnerability of his students.'

Mark Costiff, of Crawley, Sussex, said Roberts assaulted him after persuading him to visit his home for coaching.

Mr Costiff, now 40, was 16 at the time. He agreed to be identified by The Mail on Sunday and said: 'I didn't report it at the time because he suppressed me and I was embarrassed. He made me feel that if anything wrong had happened, it was my fault.
'It was horrendous. But he was very clever at covering it up. I was assured by the BJA that he would never be allowed to coach children again. I'm shocked by the decision not to bar him - it's scary to think he could get involved with young people again.'

Roberts was suspended as a senior coach in 2009 after five judo players made complaints. Kent Police carried out two investigations but the Crown Prosecution Service decided there was insufficient evidence to bring charges.

The tribunal report reveals that Roberts was once charged with indecent assault. He was found not guilty at Medway Magistrates Court in Kent in 1999. He told the MoS this week: 'I categorically deny all of the allegations.' He added that all his legal costs had been paid following his acquittal by Medway magistrates.

A senior source within the sport said: 'As far as the BJA is concerned, Roberts remains a danger to children. He will never be allowed to coach judo in this country again.'

DBS operations director Janet Gauld declined to comment. Miss Howey said: 'I was totally unaware of the allegations against Alan Roberts. I was shocked when they emerged.'

- Mail On Sunday

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