Abuse Survivors Blog

Sexual abuse by a Scout Master and redress in the civil court

Written by Donna Hughes on 15 Feb 2019

shutterstock_756139801A victim of sexual assault by a Scout Master has successfully obtained a substantial out-of-court settlement after bringing a compensation claim against The Scout Association for sexual assaults he suffered whilst a member of The Scouts.

Mr X joined a Scout Group in Northwood, London, when he was 11 years old, where he met the group’s Scout Master. Mr X was soon appointed as a Patrol Leader by the Scout Master.

In circa 1969, the Scout Master took Mr X to stay in a cottage in Herefordshire for a “reccy” prior to a summer camp. Once there, Mr X was told by the Scout Master that they would be sharing a double bed. That evening the Scout Master went out drinking and when he returned later that night, climbed into bed naked with Mr X and then proceeded to sexually assault him. The Scout Master’s attempt to sexually assault Mr X again the following night was fortunately interrupted.

The police investigation

In September 1999, Mr X was approached by police following similar allegations by other members of the Scout Group against the Scout Master. Mr X provided a statement about his abuse at the hands of the Scout Master, and a criminal investigation ensued.

The Scout Master was charged with 6 counts of indecent assault and two counts of attempted indecent assault which included offences committed against Mr X. Unfortunately, the criminal proceedings collapsed early on at a preliminary hearing where, for reasons unclear to Mr X, a decision was taken not to prosecute the Scout Master.

However, in November 2003, the Scout Master was found guilty at Guildford Crown Court of downloading indecent photographs of children (unrelated to Mr X), for which he received a 75-hour Community Punishment Order and was ordered to sign on the Sex Offenders register for 7 years.


The civil claim

In 2017, Mr X decided to pursue a civil claim against The Scout Association and approached Emmott Snell Solicitors to assist him. Mr X argued that The Scout Association were legally responsible for crimes committed by the Scout Master. Although the Scout Master was only a volunteer, Mr X argued that as he was carrying out the purpose or enterprise of the Scout Association, the Scout Association should be legally responsible for his actions.

In the course of the civil proceedings, Mr X was examined by a court expert (psychiatrist). The report showed that Mr X suffered from an adjustment disorder, depressive episodes of at least moderate severity, and a co-morbid generalised anxiety disorder. There were also periods of harmful drug and alcohol use. The expert believed that these were either caused or contributed to the abuse suffered from the Scout Master. The medical expert noted the significant impact of the abuse on Mr X’s academic and vocational achievements, his capacity to work, and relationships. The medical expert recommended in-depth psychological treatment delivered through weekly sessions with a chartered psychologist. After serving the medical report on The Scout Association’s legal representatives, negotiations followed, finally resulting in Mr X being offered a substantial five-figure sum by way of an out-of-court settlement.

Whilst no amount of money can make up for the harm suffered by Mr X or the effect it had on his life, it is hoped the settlement may help him find some closure and provide important recognition for the lifelong injury suffered. It is hoped it will also assist in accessing the specialist treatment recommended to him, to help him.

Tracey Emmott who represented Mr X said about the case:

“This case was unusual as it was successful even though Mr X had not secured a conviction against the perpetrator. However, there was sufficient evidence to establish that on a balance of probability, the perpetrator had committed the offences, which may be why the Scout Association decided to deal with the claim. It is yet another example of a gross betrayal of trust and institutional abuse, where a perpetrator takes advantage of their position within a system of power. When courageous survivors like Mr X take action against otherwise well-respected institutions, it is hoped these institutions will become more vigilant in their safeguarding and children will be better protected from abuse.”

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Topics: Institutional abuse

Donna Hughes

Written by Donna Hughes