Former youth coach sentenced to 24 years for sex abuse

WINCHESTER, England — A former youth team soccer coach has been sentenced to 24 years for sexually abusing teenage boys over a 25-year period.

Bob Higgins, who ran the youth training programs at English clubs Southampton and Peterborough, was found guilty last month of 46 charges of indecent assault against 24 teenage boys from 1971-96.

During sentencing at Winchester Crown Court in southern England on Wednesday, Judge Peter Crabtree said the 66-year-old Higgins was "predatory, cunning and manipulative."

Higgins also was ordered to sign the sex offenders' register, was banned from working with children, and was told he will be supervised on his release. He showed no emotion as the sentence was announced.

Higgins was acquitted of sexual abuse charges at a trial in the early 1990s, allowing him to return to his job and continue his abuse.

Southampton has issued an apology to the victims and launched an investigation.

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