Scout leader allegedly abused boy in tent on camping trip

Gardaí investigate alleged incident during expedition in south Co Dublin in 2014

Larch Hill in south Co Dublin. The alleged abuse took place during a camping trip here in 2014. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Larch Hill in south Co Dublin. The alleged abuse took place during a camping trip here in 2014. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

 

A file has been sent by the Garda Síochana to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) over an alleged case of child sexual abuse during a scout camping trip in 2014, at Larch Hill, south Co Dublin.

Gardaí are investigating a scout leader who allegedly abused a 12-year old boy on a camping trip more than three years ago, which was reported to Garda early last year.

A confidential disclosure in relation to the allegation was received by Minister for Children Katherine Zappone last week.

The allegation claims the male leader entered the boy’s tent at night, at Larch Hill campsite, south Co Dublin, and sexually abused him.

The male leader was in the same scout troop as the boy at the time, and the juvenile member has since left the group.

It is understood gardaí have sent a file to the DPP in recent weeks, following an investigation. The leader under investigation is still involved in a scout group.

The boy disclosed the alleged incident of sexual abuse two years later, in 2016, and the matter was reported to the gardaí in early 2017. A spokeswoman for the gardaí said they could not comment on “ongoing investigations”.

Ms Zappone has referred the disclosure of alleged child sex abuse to the Scouting Ireland chief executive Dr John Lawlor, to investigate the matter and provide her with an update “as a matter of urgency”.

Complaints

Previous complaints over inappropriate jokes and hugging were made against the leader by a parent of the boy, prior to the alleged sexual abuse disclosure from the boy.

The complaints were investigated by Scouting Ireland in 2015. Two staff members, including their child protection officer, interviewed both the parent and the subject of the complaint.

During a meeting that lasted an hour and a half, the male leader stated the complaints were an attempt to “discredit” him, according to written minutes of the discussion obtained by The Irish Times.

Scouting Ireland did not respond to questions in relation to the child sex abuse allegation.

On Thursday, Ms Zappone told the Dáil she had recently received several confidential disclosures regarding Scouting Ireland of “grave and serious concern”.

The disclosures to the Minister regarding Scouting Ireland follow reports in The Irish Times concerning the organisation’s “flawed” handling of a rape allegation made in 2016, which concerned two adult leaders.

State funding worth nearly €1 million a year remains suspended over Governance concerns at the youth organisation.

Four senior scouting figures have stepped aside from their positions while an independent inquiry is completed into how senior volunteers in the organisation handled a rape allegation in 2016.

Chief scout Christy McCann announced on Thursday he had informed the organisation’s board that he was “temporarily” standing down.

David Shalloo, chief commissioner for youth affairs, also said he would “temporarily step aside” from his role, pending the investigation’s conclusion; along with Thérèse Bermingham, chief commissioner for adult resources, and board member Ollie Kehoe.