Police have already received a minimum of six complaints against Benaiges
Former student recounts abuses he and another boy suffered. In 1997, he reported the teacher, but the case was shelved
BarcelonaA unit specialising in sexual violence will receive all the accusations that former pupils of Escola Barcelona in Les Corts and former players at the Unió Esportiva Sants are making against teacher and Barça's former grassroots football manager Albert Benaiges, as a result of ARA's investigation that uncovered the case. At the moment, although the Catalan police have not wanted to detail their exact number, ARA has learnt of a minimum of six accusations, and it is expected that during this week a minimum of six more will go to the police.
This Monday, ARA has continued collecting statements of people who suffered Benaiges at in the school and at Sants football club. A student born in 1983 acknowledged that he was sexually abused several times. He had been thinking about contacting ARA for some time and finally did so today. When he was 10 or 11 years old, Benaiges masturbated him. He locked him in the small locker room that the teacher had in the gym and abused him. According to this witness, it happened "four or five times" and, although it has not marked him as an adult, it did condition his adolescence, because he normalised sexualised situations that he lived with Benaiges and repeated them with a classmate of his age. In addition, this former student of the Escola Barcelona remembers how on one occasion the teacher masturbated him alongside another classmate. Precisely, this second student –ARA has contacted his family– was the one who denounced Benaiges in 1997. The then minor denounced Benaiges's sexual abuse to the Catalan police, but in the indictment the name of the teacher did not appear and the case focused on a relative. The case was dismissed.
Ombudsman investigates school's action
On the other hand, the Catalan Ombudsman has initiated ex-officio action on this case and has addressed the Barcelona Education Consortium to gather all possible information on Albert Benaiges and his 38 years as a teacher at the school, but also to find out if "the school's management or other professionals" had been aware of what was going on. The Catalan Ombudsman also urged the Catalan Department of Social Rights to obtain information on Benaiges's foster care and the adoption process he went through and was given an authorisation for in 1996 as a single-parent family. "The Catalan Ombudsman has also contacted the Department of Social Rights to find out if the accused has indeed fostered or adopted children or has been a collaborating family, the number of children and the period of time for each child," adds the press release issued yesterday afternoon.
Barcelona's ombudsman has also announced that it will request information about the case. It defends it has a role to play investigating any possible effort to encourage or silence these actions, regardless of whether they have prescribed.
Escola Barcelona itself has also expressed its "firm condemnation" of the facts reported in the pages of ARA newspaper. The centre wanted to support the people who suffered Benaiges's abuse and humiliation, who left the school in 2010 and has had no further connection with the school since.