Sex offenders operated at highest levels of scouting groups, report finds

Irish Times

May 15, 2020

By Jack Power

Scouting bodies protected each other and their reputations while facilitating sex abuse

Child sexual abuse was “tolerated” at the highest levels of former scouting organisations, with the crimes of those who preyed on children covered up to protect the reputation of the movement, a damning report has concluded.

There is evidence that groups of sex offenders operated at the top of Scouting Ireland’s legacy organisations to protect each other and “facilitate” child abuse, a report by child protection expert Ian Elliott found.

The Government is to consider the findings of the report and decide whether a statutory inquiry into the historic abuse may be required. However, there are concerns over whether such an inquiry would be able to uncover substantially more information, according to sources.

Scouting Ireland made a full organisational apology on foot of the report’s publication on Thursday. The historic abuse relates to the Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland (CBSI) and the Scout Association of Ireland, which merged to form Scouting Ireland in 2004.

The report said one of the legacy bodies was a “seriously dysfunctional organisation”, with “sex offenders dominating the leadership for decades”.

The culture of the former organisations were defined by “cronyism” and poor governance, which led to a consistent failure to report child abuse to authorities, it said. There was an “almost complete absence of any concern for the young people who were abused”, the report found.

Scouting Ireland has now identified 356 alleged victims of historic abuse, and 275 alleged perpetrators, who primarily operated between the 1960s and 1990s

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