South Wales Swimming Teacher Sentenced After “Campaign of Sexual Abuse”

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Joshua Hurst

Solicitor, Abuse

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TW: This article covers topics of abuse of power and sexual assault.

Robert Rixon is a swimming coach from Porthcawl who was jailed on the 11th November 2022. After abusing his position of power to sexually abuse five young girls, Rixon was sentenced to 25 years in prison, after being charged with 29 counts of sexual assault. He had run a swimming and lifeguard club at a local school, and used his power over a 16-year period, to inflict sexual abuse onto young girls. 

Rixon was initially investigated in 2018 when one of the women he sexually abused as a child came forward and reported what had happened to her. The police were then able to identify four other women who had been subjected to similar abuse by Rixon.

These women bravely revealed how Rixon would carry out sexual assaults against them in the pool and changing rooms, while they were only wearing their swimming costumes. The Court heard that there were in total 74 instances of sexual assault, one rape and two incidents where the victims were made to indecently touch Rixon over his clothing.

During Rixon’s sentence, Swansea Crown Court statedthe Defendant had exploited his position of power as a swimming instructor, to indecently assault girls as young as 11 years old in the early 2000s. 

The 25-year prison sentence was given and that he would have to spend at least two-thirds of it in custody. The jury reached a unanimous decision on all counts bar one. 

We’re pleased that Rixon was sentenced and placed on the sex offenders register, and we sympathise with the survivors of his abuse who were forced to relive their experiences at trial after Rixon initially pleaded not guilty.

In this article, we’ve looked at the impact Rixon’s abuse had on the women who came forward as well as what can be done if you have suffered a similar experience.

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What was the Impact of Rixon’s Abuse?

During Rixon’s trial, statements were read out from the women who he had assaulted as children. Although the statements varied, the common theme that emerged was the fear of not being believed.

This is unfortunately something we commonly see where abusers in positions of power use their status to manipulate a vulnerable person like a child to keep the abuse that they’re suffering a secret.

One of the women said that although she knew at the time that it was wrong, she understandably felt “too scared to question an adult.” The Judge presiding over this case stated that Rixon would have been fully aware of the power dynamics at play and that he was actively “abusing his position of trust.”

What was also clear in all the statements read out was the long-lasting trauma that each of the women affected had been subjected to. Some were pushed to thoughts of suicide, others had used drugs as an escape, and others struggled with relationships. Along with this, some victims said that they felt unsafe around men and suffered from PTSD and panic attacks.

The court heart many heart wrenching impact statements about the ’campaign of sexual abuse’, with one victim recalling the harrowing effects, " Not only did you rob me of my innocence, but you have robbed the innocence of my children. Because of what you did, every day I worry and pass my trauma and anxiety onto them in ways I shouldn’t as a parent. 

Many of the women who joined Rixon’s swimming and lifeguarding club as children aspired to become lifeguards themselves. But now the prospect of even going near a pool is daunting for them, and something they can no longer do. One of the women described the “fear and panic” she still experiences in changing rooms and that the smell of chlorine alone is enough to trigger her anxiety.

Judge Catherine Richards addressed Rixon prior to his sentencing, with the following statement; “you were abusing your position of trust. You were calculated and manipulative – these are all the hallmarks of a predatory sexual offender.”

No one should have to go through something as traumatic as sexual abuse. If you’re a survivor of abuse, it can be extremely difficult to come to terms with and no amount of money will make up for what you’ve been through. We can provide you with details of support organisations and survivors groups who may be able to offer support, like the Survivors Trust, who provide specialist support for women, men and children who have survived rape, sexual violence or childhood sexual abuse. 

I Suffered Sexual Abuse as a Child – What Can I Do? 

Making the decision to take action after suffering abuse as a child can be difficult. But it could help to bring you a sense of closure and justice.

If you haven’t already, we would firstly encourage you to report what you went through to the police. They will talk you through the prosecution service before allowing you to have the final say on whether you’d like to proceed.

You also may be entitled to compensation through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). CICA is a government body that was set up in 1965 to compensate the victims of violent crime, including sexual assault.

Whilst you don’t need to instruct a Solicitor to make a CICA claim, having a specialist solicitor experienced in abuse claims on your side can help to increase the chances of a successful outcome. We’ve represented clients in similar cases to the one described in this article and can help you navigate the process. For free and confidential initial advice, get in touch with our approachable and friendly Abuse Law team.

Making a Claim for Child Abuse 

Reporting any form of abuse to the police is crucial before any case takes place. If you have reason to believe that someone working in a position of power is abusing children, you should report these concerns to the police as well.

Abuse in places where there is a position of power could happen in many ways: 

  • It can be a one-off incident, or it can happen on several occasions
  • It can span several years
  • There can be more than one victim
  • There can been more than one abuser
  • It can be sexual, physical or emotional
  • It can happen in schools, extracurricular clubs (e.g scouts, cadets), church, children’s homes etc

We have helped many survivors bring a successful claim even if the abuse happened many years ago, allowing them to get the closure and justice they deserve.

Whatever your circumstances or your objectives, and even if you aren’t sure yet, our specialist Abuse Claims Solicitors can initially give you free and confidential legal advice so you can decide how you want to proceed.

When you're ready to talk, we're ready to listen

Related Articles

References:

GOV.UK. (n.d.). Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority. https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/criminal-injuries-compensation-authority

The Survivors Trust. (n.d.). Find Support. https://www.thesurvivorstrust.org/find-support

Yahoo News. (2022, October 27). Swimming Teacher Who Abused Girls Jailed for 25 Years in Swansea, South Wales. https://uk.news.yahoo.com/swimming-teacher-abused-girls-jailed-25-years-swansea-south-wales-153456737.html

BBC News. (2022, October 27). Swimming Teacher Abused Girls: Man Jailed for 25 Years in Swansea. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-63633645

Joshua Hurst

Solicitor, Abuse

Areas of Expertise:
Abuse Claims

Joshua works as a Solicitor in our Abuse Department, which operates under the leadership of Liam Goggin.

Joshua has been with Simpson Millar since 2019, where he started as a Paralegal in the Abuse Department, a role he stayed in for two years. His dedication and drive then led him to a position as a Trainee Solicitor, where he worked in the Industrial Disease and Military Claims Departments. His passion for representing victims of abuse made him return to the Abuse department, where he completed his training contract and began working as a Solicitor.

He takes immense pride in representing victims of abuse, deeply valuing the trust his clients place in him. Every day, he's reminded of the importance of listening attentively, acting in the clients' best interests, and guiding them through their challenging moments. Ever since he began his legal career, Joshua knew he wanted to help represent victims of abuse. It means a lot to him when clients trust him with their stories and cases. His main goal is to help his clients as much as he can, so they can start to heal and move on.

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