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‘I was afraid to close my eyes to sleep’

Wendell Baxter

An abuse victim who suffered years of sexual exploitation at the hands of former Bermuda footballer and coach Wendell Baxter has spoken of the devastating effects his actions had on him.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was aged just 12 when Baxter targeted him for the first time before embarking on a campaign of repeated abuse over a ten-year period.

Baxter, 58, was on Tuesday jailed for 11 years at the Supreme Court for his sordid crimes against the man as well as two other victims in the 1970s and 1980s.

In a victim impact statement that was read to the court, the man said: “I would like to not only address my situation but also draw attention to the cracks in our systems and organisations that allows for this to occur.”

Addressing Baxter directly, he added: “I can’t stress enough the profound impact your actions had on me. I was afraid to close my eyes and attempt to sleep, up until this day I don’t sleep much.

“My years in secondary school were challenging. It started out good but it slowly became more difficult as a result of your actions. I completely withdrew myself slowly from society.

“Education became less important to me, now that I reflect how wrong was I. Only education can save you. Who knows what I could have made of myself if only I was in a better state of mind.”

The victim described how after a “long and painful journey” he was able to find happiness with his wife.

He added: “To the people of Bermuda it is often said that it takes a village to raise a child, so it’s confusing to me that in a country this small we seem to struggle with that concept.

“Is it because we are not prepared to expose individuals close to us, be they family members or long-standing friends, administrators or anybody that we hold in high esteem?

“After these many years I have come to the realisation that this was so much bigger than me and that I had a responsibility to formally address the abuse that I endured in order to protect others, particularly those in vulnerable situations.”

The man urged parents to provide for and protect their children’s futures.

He said: “To parents and especially fathers; women give us the greatest gift that we can imagine. Being a parent comes with significant responsibilities and when done right, there is no more rewarding feeling.

“Our children are special and as fathers we must show our face and take our rightful place in the home and in society in general.

“Having children is an awesome responsibility and when we get it right there is no more rewarding feeling. We must get it right.”

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