Abuse victim molested by football coach as a child urges others to speak out

James Kinnen was sentenced to eight years in jail at the High Court in Glasgow
James Kinnen was sentenced to eight years in jail at the High Court in Glasgow

A man who was sexually abused as a child by a football coach has said his life has been “taken away” from him.

Stephen Rielly (55) waived his right to anonymity to share a story he has kept silent for more than four decades after being molested aged just 11 by James Kinnen.

Kinnen (74) last week pleaded guilty to two charges of indecent behaviour towards children between 1972 and 1977 at the High Court in Glasgow, where he was sentenced to eight years in jail.

Now his abuser is finally behind bars, Stephen has taken the brave decision to step into the public eye in the hope of encouraging other abuse victims who have stayed silent through fear to speak out against their perpetrators.

He said: “I’ve carried the guilt and the shame for 40-odd years.

“The silence was like a cancer. The longer I kept silent, it grew and made me into a person I didn’t even like.

“It didn’t matter what the sentence was going to be, it wasn’t going to be enough for him (Kinnen) taking my life away.

“I want to say to people to come forward if they’re harbouring dirty, sordid secrets about things that have happened to them. Report them and get help.”

Stephen and another boy were threatened and intimidated into secrecy over the abuse by Kinnen while playing for a youth football club in North Lanarkshire.

Kinnen’s twisted past eventually caught up with him in 2016 when he was arrested as part of an investigation into historical child sexual abuse in Scottish football.

Stephen still suffers “night terrors” and has attempted suicide on a number of occasions since being abused.

The Wishaw-born man, who has lived in the Falkirk area for eight years, has also suffered three heart attacks, a mini-stroke and been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Stephen has urged anyone experiencing similar issues to seek support.

He added: “The abuse has affected all aspects of my life.

“The emotions of the frightened wee child are still there.

“No matter how trivial you think it is, if it’s affecting you in any sort of way, get professional help because it’s out there.”