Successful child abuse case for client abused by two Scout masters | Bolt Burdon Kemp Successful child abuse case for client abused by two Scout masters | Bolt Burdon Kemp

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Successful child abuse case for client abused by two Scout masters

I have recently been successful in a case against the Scout Association for childhood abuse suffered by a client at the hands of two Cub Scout masters.

Background – the abuse

My client was sexually abused by Richard Gilbert, who was a Cub Scout master of the 9th Penge & Beckenham Cub and Scout group.  The abuse took place when my client was aged between about 4 and 13 years old.

Gilbert manipulated his position of trust as a Cub Scout leader and emphasised his good public standing to gain the trust of my client’s parents and the local community.  This enabled him to abuse my client for a substantial period of time without detection before he decided to stop abusing my client.

My client continued to go to Cub Scout meetings and became a Scout aged 11 where he met Edward O’Donoghue, a Scout master.  My client eventually found the confidence to confide in O’Donoghue that he had been sexually abused by Glbert as a child.  In a frankly despicable act, O’Donoghue groomed and manipulated my client’s trust to inflict further sexual abuse and to compound the impact of the abuse that he had already suffered earlier in his childhood.  My client was abused by O’Donoghue when he was aged between about 13 and 15 years old.

My client finally felt able to disclose his abuse to the police and O’Donoghue was convicted in 1997 of sexually assaulting my client.  Gilbert had committed suicide while the police were investigating allegations of child abuse against other individuals and my client’s allegations were therefore never tried in a criminal court.  My intention was to use Gilbert’s suicide as similar fact evidence for also assaulting my client and to also persuade the court to infer that on the balance of probabilities, Gilbert committed suicide due to him finally being found out for committing child abuse.

Our involvement – pursing a compensation claim

I was concerned about pursuing O’Donoghue directly for compensation as there was a real risk he would not have enough money or assets to pay compensation to my client.  As Gilbert was already dead and his assets had already been distributed, he was no longer considered a viable defendant.  As a result, I decided to pursue the employer of Gilbert and O’Donoghue, being the Scout Association.  It was clear to me that both abusers had used their position as Scout masters to obtain access to my client before manipulating him and then sexually abusing him.  I felt the Scouts were therefore equally responsible for the abuse as they had failed to supervise Gilbert and O’Donoghue even though they were allowed daily interaction with young children.

The Scouts finally admitted they were responsible for O’Donoghue’s actions and that they would also consider the actions of Gilbert, as long as we could prove the assaults took place.  I therefore provided them with our medical evidence and my assessment of my client’s losses and expenses as a result of the abuse.  My client had not only suffered substantial psychiatric injuries but the abuse had also had substantial impacts on his personal relationships, his studies and consequently his career.  This was a particularly saddening case as our psychiatric expert not only recommended extensive psychiatric therapy to deal with the impact of the abuse, but he also recommended sex therapy.  Further treatment was recommended by a psychiatrist and plastic surgeon to help remove tattoos that depicted therapeutic text but that now acted as a daily reminder of the abuse.

As is sadly common in child abuse cases, my client faced a daily struggle to cope with his child abuse and he tried to self-medicate his emotions by drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.  My client knew he had an issue with alcohol and he was very keen to undergo the recommended treatment to finally overcome the impact that his childhood abuse had taken on his life.

Successful conclusion

I decided to arrange a settlement meeting with the Scout Association’s legal representatives in an effort to progress my client’s case.  I am glad to report that this settlement meeting was successful and that I was able to obtain a significant sum of compensation for my client.

The conclusion of this case was a significant result for my client as he felt the Scout Association had finally listened not only to what Gilbert and O’Donoghue had done to him but also the impact this had taken and continued to take on his daily life.  My client was satisfied that the Scout Association finally acknowledged they had failed him as a child and my client was also satisfied that his civil case would help to protect future children from ever having to suffer child abuse.  I was informed by my client that this acknowledgment was something that had been missing his entire life and that it was something that helped him to finally feel he had obtained justice.  My client has already looked towards commencing the recommended psychiatric treatment and he is keen to rebuild his damaged relationships so he can finally try to move on with his life and to obtain some closure from his childhood abuse.

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