Football team’s spirit helped convict pervert Edinburgh football coach as teammates hope case can ‘inspire’ other abuse victims to come forward

A man who was abused by an Edinburgh football coach as a boy says the spirit of his former teammates helped bring the case to court to get justice - and they hope other abuse victims can be inspired to come forward.

Thursday, 1st April 2021, 12:30 pm

William Lothian gave young boys alcohol and showed them pornographic movies before sexually abusing them at his home in the city. One youngster was forced to flee in the middle of the night after Lothian jumped into his bed and started molesting him.

The 66-year-old indecently assaulted several young players - aged between 11 and 14 - while head coach of a boys’ football club in the Capital between 1997 and 2003.

Seven victims, all now in their 30s, gave evidence against Lothian during a five day trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court - and on Wednesday the jury returned a guilty verdict on each of the 14 charges against him.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

William Lothian gave young boys alcohol and showed them pornographic movies before sexually abusing them at his home in Edinburgh.

Following the verdict, one of the victims told the Edinburgh Evening News: “The guys were delighted. I was pretty confident the jury would do its job but you never know. We were really happy and totally feel vindicated.

“That team spirit was there. We were a decent outfit and even though we have not all managed to stay in touch, that bond was still there when we came together to try and bring justice - it definitely helped.

“The motivation was also there to try and raise awareness and inspire people to come forward with these things afterwards, even if it’s many years ago.”

‘Inappropriate touching’

During the trial, the men told the jury there had been regular “inappropriate touching” by the retired janitor during the weekly training sessions when the team practised at an Edinburgh school gym hall.

One man said the abuse became “a norm at training” and that Lothian “made it out to be fun, like a game.”

Lothian also invited two players to stay over at his home when they were between 10 and 12 and all three would drink beer and Bacardi in a converted attic.

One victim said: “We would then go down to his bedroom and lie on the floor. He would stick pornography on the TV and watch it.

“Bill would lie in the middle of us on the floor and he would rub our nipples. The alcohol made us feel tired.

“After watching the pornography he had his hands down my shorts. I was half asleep when he was doing this."

The man said he blocked the abuse out at the time but “as the years have gone on it has had a big impact on me.”

Another victim said he was abused during a stay at Lothian’s home following a Player of the Year presentation night when he was around 13.

He said Lothian, of Muirhouse, gave him beer to drink before climbing into bed and molesting him.

He questioned what was going on but was told “it’s okay, don’t worry,” then jumped out of bed and lay on the floor with a pillow. Hours later, he “sneaked out of the house” while it was still dark.

Lothian denied all 14 allegations against him but was found guilty by a jury of all charges.

Sheriff Chris Dickson placed Lothian on the Sex Offenders’ Register and deferred sentence.

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription at