Nsw Scouts Didn't Sack Suspected Paedophile Because It Would 'Look Bad', Royal Commission Told

By Paul Bibby
Sydney Morning Herald
September 16, 2013

Justice Peter McClellan and Justice Jennifer Coate during the first day of the public hearing.

Steven Larkins.

[with video]

Senior figures within NSW Scouts were told about inappropriate behaviour by Hunter region Scout leader Steven Larkins years before he was arrested by police for abusing children but refused to kick him out on the grounds that it would "look bad for scouts" to kick out a member who was part Aboriginal.

The explosive allegations came from a former Scout group leader, who was giving evidence on the opening day of Sydney hearings of the Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

It was all about protecting Scouts, not about protecting children. 
Armand Hoitink told the commission that Larkins, who was jailed last year for aggravated indecent assault, possessing child pornography and forging documents, was involved in a number of disturbing incidents in the mid to late 1990s that were well known to many senior office holders.

"It was common knowledge that he had problems with children but no one seemed willing to do anything about it," Mr Hoitink, who worked with Larkins, told the court.

"It was all about protecting Scouts, not about protecting children."

Among these incidents, Mr Hoitink said, was an occasion in which Larkins allegedly was "cavorting with children" in the showers.

"I was told he was in the showers with the boys naked from the waste up," Mr Hoitink said.

He also told the commission that around in 1994, when Larkins was working as a group leader at Stockton, he waited outside a local swimming pool and tried to "lure" young boys to come home with him by offering them lollies.

Mr Hoitink said he called the police but was told there was nothing they could do other than keeping a close eye on him.

He said he was "admonished" by the district Scout commissioner at the time, Bill Metcalfe.

"He said I should have contacted Scouts first before going to police and let them handle it," Mr Hoitink said.

"I got a slap on the wrist."

Mr Hoitink said that Mr Metcalfe and other senior leaders said they would "step Larkins down" - meaning that he could no longer engage directly with children.

However, the commission heard that Larkins continued working within the local Scout movement in positions where he had contact with children on a regular basis.

Mr Hoitink said that when he confronted Mr Metcalfe about this and asked why Larkins had not been kicked out he was told "well we can't because he's part Aboriginal".

"They thought it would be bad publicity at the time if they did," Mr Hoitink said.

"It would look bad."

"I said 'would you rather have a paedophile in your midst?'"

Giving evidence in the commission later in the day, Mr Metcalfe denied that this conversation ever took place.

He said that he had tried to keep Larkins away from children but had been unable to do so.


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