CELTIC Football Club has expressed its ‘deep regret’ after the founder of Celtic Boys’ Club was jailed for sexually abusing three boys.
Jim Torbett, 71, was sentenced to six years in prison on Monday for five abuse charges between 1986 and 1994.
He had denied the offences, which related to two players from the Celtic Boys’ Club Under-14 sides and a third who was abused from the age of five.
The Celtic Boys youth football club was founded by Torbett in Glasgow in 1966.
While not officially affiliated to the professional Celtic club from the city, the two have ‘historic contacts’ and several Boys’ Club players have gone on to play for Celtic.
In a statement, Celtic said it wished to express its “deep regret that the incidents took place and sympathy for the victims who suffered abuse”.
“We are grateful for the courage of those who have come forward to report abuse and to give evidence after such a long period of time,” said the statement.
“We have great respect for them and their families as they continue to cope with the distressing effects of the abuse they suffered.
“Allegations regarding abuse at Celtic Boys’ Club first emerged in the 1990s.
“Although Celtic Football Club is an entirely separate organisation, we have always taken these allegations extremely seriously because of our historic contacts with Celtic Boys’ Club.
“All investigations by the police and other inquiries were given our full support.
“We encouraged any individuals involved to report all information to the police so that matters could be investigated fully.”
Torbett had previously been jailed for two years in 1998 for abusing three young Celtic Boys’ Club players between 1967 and 1974.
Celtic’s statement said that following those revelations, it took steps to develop a new code of conduct and procedures to protect young people.
These included being the first club in Scotland to appoint a safeguarding officer.
Sentencing Torbitt on Monday, Lord Beckett told him: “Your depraved conduct towards innocent children has blighted their lives.”