Successful child abuse case against the Scout Association

April 19, 2016

Posted by: Dino Nocivelli

I have recently been successful in an action against the Scout Association for childhood abuse suffered by two clients.

Background – the abuse

My clients were sexually abused by David Palmer, who was the Scout master of the 7th Crawley Scout group.  The abuse took place between approximately 1985 and 1988 when my clients were aged between about 11 and 14 years old.

Palmer manipulated his position of trust as a Scout leader and emphasised his good public standing to gain the trust of my clients’ parents and the local community.  This enabled him to abuse my client for a substantial period of time without detection.

One of my clients decided to report the abuse to the police and a number of other Scouts then disclosed their own abuse at the hands of Palmer.  He pleaded guilty to a number of offences and was convicted at Chichester Crown Court in 1994 while a number of other offences were to lie on the file.  This meant that I would have to prove the offences for which Palmer had not been convicted had, on the balance of probabilities, taken place.

Our involvement – pursing a compensation claim

I was concerned about pursuing Palmer directly for compensation as there was a real risk he would not have enough money or assets to pay compensation to my clients.  As a result, I decided to pursue Palmer’s employer, the Scout Association.  It was clear to me that Palmer had used his position as a Scout master to obtain access to my clients before manipulating them and then sexually abusing them.  I felt the Scouts were therefore equally responsible for the abuse as they had failed to supervise Palmer even though he was allowed daily interaction with young children.

The Scouts finally admitted they were responsible for Palmer’s actions and I therefore provided them with our medical evidence and my assessment of my clients’ losses and expenses as a result of the abuse.  My clients had not only suffered substantial psychiatric injuries but the abuse had also had substantial impacts on their personal relationships, their studies and consequently their careers while psychiatric therapy was also needed to help them deal with the impact of their abuse.

Successful conclusion

I decided to arrange settlement meetings with the Scout Association’s legal representatives in an effort to progress my clients’ cases.  I am glad to report that these settlement meetings were successful and that I was obtain significant sums of compensation for both of my clients.

The conclusions of these cases were a significant result for my clients as they felt the Scout Association had finally listened not only to what Palmer had done to them but also the impact this had taken on their lives.  My clients were satisfied that the Scout Association finally acknowledged they had failed them as children and my clients were also satisfied that their civil cases would help to protect future children from ever having to suffer child abuse.  The conclusion of these cases acted as real closure for my clients and it has enabled them a sense of justice and also an ability to move forward from their childhood abuse.

Dino Nocivelli is a partner in the Abuse team at Bolt Burdon Kemp.  If you feel you may have a claim or are enquiring on behalf of a loved one, contact Dino free of charge and in confidence on 020 7288 4887 or at  Alternatively, complete this form and one of the solicitors in the Abuse team will contact you.  Find out more about the Abuse Team.

Posted by: Dino Nocivelli


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