Scout abuse claim is settled out of court
For expert guidance on making a scout abuse claim contact our free legal helpline in complete confidence on 0808 139 1597 or send an email to [email protected].
Lawyer Elizabeth Duncan has recently settled a compensation claim against the Scout Association.
She had been contacted by J, a young man in his 20s. When he was 12 years old J had joined his local Scout troop where he came to the attention of one of the deputy leaders of the troop, Mr S.
After Mr S had left the troop he contacted J on social media. As he had been his Scout leader, J saw no problem with this and messaged back. There followed a period of increasingly frequent messages which culminated in Mr S persuading J to come over to his house. On this evening Mr S plied J with alcohol and raped him. J was just 13 years old.
J was devastated by what happened. He felt scared, confused and ashamed. He felt crippling anxiety. He felt that it was his fault that he had been raped. J’s relationships with his parents, sibling and friends were badly affected. He struggled at school, finding it difficult to be close to men in a position of authority. As a result he truanted and did not achieve his educational potential.
In 2018, J was listening to the radio when he heard a piece about the Truth Project, part of the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse. He made contact with the Truth Project and they supported him as he reported the abuse to the police.
After a criminal investigation the case went to trial in January 2021 and Mr S was found guilty of raping J. J then turned to Elizabeth for expert guidance on claiming compensation for scout abuse.
She considered what had happened and how Mr S had been able to win J’s trust as a result of his position as a trusted member of the Scouting movement. We felt that in these circumsatances the Scout Association ought to be responsible for the abuse inflicted on J. Mr S had been in a position of responsibility in the Scouts and J trusted him accordingly. It was through his asociation with the scouts that Mr S had been able to abuse J.
We agreed to take on the case and work for J on a No Win, No Fee basis.
We obtained a copy of the Crown Court transcript which contained very helpful comments by the judge about the way that Mr S had used his position to gain J’s trust.
We sent a letter of claim to the Scout Association, who denied legal liability for the abuse for two reasons:
Firstly, as J was over 21 years old he was outside the usual time limit for making a claim (called the “limitation period”) and they said that his claim was time barred.
Secondly, they said that as the abuse had not specifically happened in the Scout Group they did not accept that they would be legally responsible for it.
We did not agree with either of these points. The very recent Crown Court conviction meant that, in our view, a judge in the civil case would be highly likely to agree to allow a compensation claim be made outside the usual time period. Given the comments of the criminal judge we also thought we had a good chance of succeeding on the second point as well.
We therefore pressed on and arranged for J to meet an independent psychiatrist who prepared a report about the impact the abuse had on him.
We disclosed the medical evidence together with information about J’s financial losses to the Scout Association’s lawyers and invited them to negotiate a settlement to avoid formal court proceedings. Happily, after a period of discussuons with them we were able to agree an out of court settlement in excess of £60,000.
J was extremely happy with the outcome saying he felt like it would help him find closure. J thanked Elizabeth saying, “you’ve been amazing and I couldn’t be happier with the result”.
If you would like to know where you stand on making a scout abuse claim call our free legal helpline on 0808 139 1597 or email us at [email protected].