We are leading scout abuse solicitors
If you are looking for experienced scout abuse solicitors then our expert lawyers are here to help. In this article we examine the extent of the problem of abuse within the Scouting Movement and look briefly at a couple of the cases we are currently dealing with. Contact us for a free case assessment and details of no win, no fee funding.
The Scouting movement aims to contribute to the development of young people in achieving their full physical, intellectual, emotional and social potential. It welcomes members of all races, genders and origins and employs a programme of informal education with an emphasis on practical outdoor activities such as camping and sports. Over the decades many thousands of children have joined the Scouting movement and, for the vast majority of them, it was a positive experience giving them new experiences, new friends and new skills. However, a number of Scouting leaders have used their position to prey on, and sexually abuse children in their care.
There have been a number of media reports about Scout leaders having been convicted for the abuse of boys. Since the 1950s over 250 people in the UK and Ireland have been convicted of child sexual offences committed while they were Scout leaders or held other positions of responsibility in the Scout movement. These include convictions for rape, indecent assault, voyeurism and the possession, creation and distribution of indecent images of children.
While many like to think that these are historical problems consigned to the past, unfortunately this is not the case and the movement must remain vigilant in relation to safeguarding. There is also much room for improvement. It is particularly important to ensure that safeguarding does not solely depend on the integrity of individuals, as abusers are by nature secretive, manipulative and opportunistic.
For example in 2020 Oliver Cooper was jailed for 6 years for three counts of sexual assault against 6-year-olds as recently as 2018. Another conviction in 2020 was that of Graham Avison who was jailed for offences of indecent assault in the 1990s. In common with many abusers, Avison had begun grooming his victim with small gifts. Richard Sherriff was convicted in early 2021 for raping a member of the Scout group where he had volunteered between 2008 and 2009.
Elizabeth Duncan, a lawyer in our specialist abuse department, currently represents a number of people who were abused by Scout leaders.
One was a teenager who was having doubts about his sexuality. An adult volunteer used this to befriend and groom him. The abuser ultimately lured our client to his home where he plied him with alcohol and then raped him. This had a profound impact on our client whose parents spoke in court about how his personality changed overnight. Even now, years later, he struggles with feelings of shame and guilt and it has an ongoing effect on his personal life. We are in communication with lawyers for the Scout Association who are keen to explore settlement with our client.
Another client of ours had a difficult home life which was ruthlessly exploited by his Scout leader who abused him between the ages of 11 and 14. Our client was subjected to frequent and severe abuse by this man including being raped on camp and told to “close his eyes and pretend it’s a girl”. The abuse has had an enormous impact on his life as he continues to struggle with low self-esteem, depression, anxiety and substance misuse as he seeks to dull the pain of his experiences.
In all claims for abuse against Scout leaders compensation is sought not only for the impact on the person but also for private treatment to help them move on with their lives.