'It was an emotional process' - Football teammates ‘relieved’ with jail sentence for pervert Edinburgh coach and hope it encourages other abuse victims to come forward
A man who was abused by an Edinburgh football coach as a boy says he and his teammates are “relieved” that justice has been served after a sheriff jailed him for nearly four years.
William Lothian gave boys alcohol and showed them porn movies before sexually abusing them at his city home. 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.
One youngster was left so terrified after Lothian jumped into his bed and pressed his penis against him he was forced to flee the home in the middle of the night.
Lothian, known as Bill, also regularly assaulted the children during weekly training sessions at a school hall by grabbing their testicles and placing his finger near their anus.
Seven victims, all now in their 30s, gave evidence against Lothian during a five day trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court in March where they said he targeted them sexually. Lothian denied the sex attacks but was found guilty by a jury following trial.
On Tuesday, he was jailed for 45 months by sheriff Chris Dickson and placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register for life.
One of Lothian’s victims, who attended court for the sentencing along with a number of former teammates, said: “It was an emotional process but we’re delighted to see it come to a conclusion now.
“We are relieved, delighted and happy this man can not cause trouble or hurt any more children and feel justice has ultimately been done.
“It has affected people with challenges into their adult life and we can not ask for much more than the maximum available sentence. A lot of people think it should be eight to ten years, but we work with what’s on the table.”
The man added: “We hope this encourages other people to come forward, no matter how historic the crimes were, because something can still be done.”
Following the guilty verdict in March, the man spoke of how the team he played in were a “decent outfit” with a great deal of team spirit, and that this bond prevailed in coming together to bring justice against their abuser.
He said sheriff Dickson also spoke during sentencing of how the team loved football and built up a team spirit, and that Lothian had exploited and breached a position of trust.
During the trial, the men told the jury there had been regular “inappropriate touching” during the weekly training sessions when the team practised at an Edinburgh school gym hall.
One man said the retired janitor would often “touch our private parts” and “sometimes put his finger up our bums in a joking manner”.
He added 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 witness said Lothian touched his privates, and added: “We went to sleep and when we woke up it was as if nothing had happened.”
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”.
He added looking back it made him feel “horrible and disgusted” and he now feels “ashamed”.
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 the capital’s Muirhouse, gave him beer to drink before climbing into bed and molesting him.
The man said: “I could feel his penis on my leg. His hand then travelled down towards my boxers.
“I shrugged him off and said ‘What are you doing?’ He said to me ‘It’s OK, don’t worry.
“I jumped out of bed and I just lay on the floor with a pillow. It was freezing cold and I fell asleep.”
He woke hours later and “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.