April 23, 2012
A Barclay's Premier League club is facing a child sex abuse scandal that bears eerie similarities to the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State after a youth academy coach was arrested and charged with a "sex attack on a young boy in the changing rooms."
As reported by the London Daily Mail, the Sun and a variety of other British news sources, West Bromwich Albion academy coach Mark O'Shea, a developmental coach who has led the club's under-7 through under-11 classifications for roughly five years, was arrested and interviewed by police about his interactions with a handful of trainee players under his guise.
O'Shea, a 34-year-old longtime coach, reportedly showered with the players under his control, with as many as three of those players then complaining about his behavior.
"Everyone is in shock," the father of a West Brom trainee under O'Shea's guidance told the Daily Mail. "Coaches at big academies can become gods to these boys. This is a nightmare made flesh."
While O'Shea declined official comment, West Bromwich Albion itself acted quickly to cut off access and ties with the coach, whether he is guilty or not. It was the Albion front office which first reported O'Shea to police and has since suspended the academy coach.
Whether those early actions can help the club avoid a taint similar to the one that still lingers over Penn State remains to be seen. At least in West Brom's case, no one will claim that the team attempted to avoid dealing with the incident when it first learned of the allegations against O'Shea.