CHILD ABUSE: ‘Clique’ of child abusers operated at top of former scouting body

Evidence abuser brought child to other perpetrator’s home to molest, says Elliott

An organised “clique” of child abusers operated at high levels in the Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland (CBSI), sharing knowledge with each other and in some cases providing children for others in the group to molest, an expert has said.

In one instance a known child abuser took a victim to the home of another perpetrator to be abused, according to Ian Elliott, the expert who reformed Scouting Ireland’s current child protection policy.

In an interview with The Irish Times, Mr Elliott said that during his review of historical abuse in former scouting bodies, evidence emerged of a “clique” of abusers within CBSI.

“I’m quite sure that there would have been an understanding between them and there would have been communication between them,” Mr Elliott said.

“One particular man who I spoke to, he spoke about being abused by a known perpetrator, but that abuser taking him to another abuser’s house, to be abused,” he said.

The historical abuse controversy relates to CBSI and the Scout Association of Ireland, which merged to form Scouting Ireland in 2004. The youth organisation has identified more than 350 alleged survivors of historical child sex abuse, and 275 alleged perpetrators.

Blind eye

A blind eye was turned to those abusing children by some others in the former scouting organisations, in exchange for support securing promotions and internal elected positions, Mr Elliott said.

The extent to which others were aware of the abuse taking place was “very disturbing,” he said.

“There was this acceptance, that people could continue to work in an organisation even though they knew, or strongly suspected . . . that abuse was taking place,” he said.

Abusers who held positions of power in the former organisations were able to ensure child-protection complaints made against others in their group were not properly responded to, Mr Elliott said. 

Mr Elliott said he did not think a further statutory inquiry into the abuse would provide any “added value,” given the often slow and legalistic nature of State inquiries.

Scouting Ireland’s current child-protection standards and governance had improved a “tremendous amount” in the last three years, he said. The organisation had done a “really remarkable job” improving standards and confronting the legacy of past abuse, Mr Elliott said.

Top of page picture: A scene from the movie Spotlight which loooked at a newspaper investigation into child abuse.

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