Decades of sex abuse covered up by cronIES’ – apology from scouts after shocking report
Decades of sexual abuse of young scouts perpetrated by senior figures has been exposed in a damning review by an independent safeguarding consultant into the running of Scouting Ireland.
The review lays bare a litany of abuse which was allowed to continue because very senior people knew of, and protected, alleged perpetrators.
Yesterday Scouting Ireland apologised to victims and survivors of the abuse and said it was fully implementing recommendations made by the consultant.
The chair of Scouting Ireland, Adrian Tennant, made the apology as the report by Ian Elliott was published.
Mr Tennant said Mr Elliott’s learning review into historical sexual abuse, which was commissioned by Scouting Ireland, uncovered “shocking stories of sexual abuse in Scouting over many decades”.
“To date 356 victims and survivors have come forward to Scouting Ireland, to the gardai, to the PSNI and to Tusla and Gateway to share their stories. We know of 275 known or suspected perpetrators,” he added.
“Young people in Scouting were abused, sexually and physically, and sometimes violently.
“Some alleged perpetrators were serial abusers with multiple victims. The alleged perpetrators were at all levels within their organisations up to the most senior levels.
“There is evidence that very senior people knew of, and protected, alleged perpetrators within these organisations.
“This ‘cronyism’ led to cover-up or looking the other way.
“Abuse did happen, it was not responded to in a way that protected the young person or sought to hold the offender to account.
“Most shockingly of all, Mr Elliott states that based on emerging evidence, senior volunteers, who were thought to be sex offenders, did share information with each other about their abuse and took steps to facilitate that abuse for each other,” he added.
Scouting Ireland is the largest youth organisation in the country, with nearly 50,000 members.
In his apology, Mr Tennant said Scouting Ireland “unreservedly apologises to the victims and survivors of abuse in Scouting who were failed”.
“We are sorry that adults in Scouting harmed you. We are sorry that you were not protected. We are sorry that you were not listened to or were unable to tell your story at that time.
“We are sorry for the hurt caused to you and the legacy of that hurt which many of you still live with today.
“We know we cannot take away that hurt, but we do want you to know that you have been heard.
“We want you to know that you are believed. We want you to know we will support you.
“We are determined that there is no place in Scouting for anyone who, by design or by omission, harms a child, as you were.
“Cronyism, looking away and covering up are not victimless crimes. They are enabling actions.
“We pledge to adopt and deliver the learnings and recommendations of this report.
“It is a light pointing into a very dark corner but it is also a beacon for the standards, culture and structures we must have, and which must be resourced to ensure that Scouting is a safe place for young people.
“You, by your bravery in speaking out, have helped to uncover the truth.
“Your legacy now is to have helped to make Scouting Ireland a safer place for young people; to have reminded us of why we exist – to support and cherish our young people through their Scouting experience,” he added.
Mr Elliott highlighted that many difficulties occurred in the history of Scouting, particularly through the 1980s and 1990s.
He highlighted how suspected or known sex offenders gained positions of power in the organisation, and how they exercised control and engaged in cronyism that would allow the abuse to continue.
“There was cover-up and there was a failure to report,” he said.
“The full extent of this cannot be determined exactly as records have been lost and destroyed.
“There appears to have been an almost complete absence of any concern for the young people that were abused.
“Where attempts were made to support them, this is poorly recorded.
“A characteristic of the poor governance that existed in Scouting was the existence of a culture driven by self-interest, with little attention paid to the young people involved.
“Small cliques emerged and played too great a part in how the Scouting bodies operated.
“Individuals who had a sexual interest in young people, rose to positions of power and influence on occasions and controlled any fledgling accountability processes, preventing known offenders from being removed from Scouting.
“Cronyism thrived and remained a significant problem in Scouting up to and including the reviewer’s involvement with Scouting Ireland.
“Poor governance structures contributed greatly to the failure of Scouting to consistently and comprehensively address abuse.
“Individuals who behaved badly were not held to account through robust and timely disciplinary processes.
“The introduction of an accountability framework was resisted.
“Ironically, the popularity of Scouting increased during the time when sexual abuse appears to have been most prevalent.
“Individuals who were suspected or known to be sex offenders gained positions of power and became largely impregnable.
“The learning review cites the existence of this negative culture driven by self-interest, along with poor governance structures as being the main cause of the continuation of sexual abuse in Scouting.”
Scouting Ireland chief executive Anne Griffin said she wanted to assure all its members and the wider public that it is a very different organisation today.
“Bad culture, as described in Mr Elliott’s learning review, thrives in poor structure and poor governance,” she said.
“Over the past three years we have implemented new governance and safeguarding structures which I believe, help us to stamp out any lingering elements of this damaging behaviour.
“I am determined to ensure that we continue this work so that we become an organisation that is the standard bearer for best in class safeguarding and governance.”
Mr Elliott added that Scouting is a wonderful activity for the vast majority of young people that participate in it. “For some, this has not been the case and that is a tragedy,” he said.
“It is so important that the hard lessons of past mistakes
are studied and applied to present practice.
“Not every institution has the courage and commitment to do this, and it is very much to the credit of Scouting Ireland that they have shown their willingness to face their history and address it.”
Fred says: Scandal following scandal yet there are people who have been brought before the courts and who are presently in prison. This link clearly states all Irish paedophiles brought before our courts and placed in prison https://theukdatabase.net/
As crimes come to light now over decades, and while we know these paedophiles still exist and often travel abroad to abuse children in other countries, we need to examine if there is anyway in preventing people with a desire to have sex with young children to control these urges and take another path in life. https://theconversation.com/psychology-of-a-paedophile-why-are-some-people-attracted-to-children-59991
Links for exploration, action …
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKPpKrAhgE0 The Sidney Cooke Paedophile Gang. This is not for the faint hearted but if you really want to understand the perversity in human nature, this is a good place to start.