Scouting and school abuse case settled for six figure sum

Christian Brothers and Scouting Ireland are understood to be each paying half of the settlement cost

A man who claimed he was sexually assaulted by two Christian Brothers teachers and a scout leader, when he was a schoolboy in the 1970s, has settled his High Court action for a six figure sum.

Scouting Ireland and the Christian Brothers are understood to each be paying half of the cost of the settlement. The religious order had indicated it would not contribute more than half of the sum, sources said.

The settlement, reached last Thursday, is subject to a confidentiality clause but several sources confirmed it runs into six figures.

The man, aged in his 50s, cannot be identified by order of the court. The action had been taken against the Christian Brothers in Ireland, two named Christian Brothers, Scouting Ireland, and a named former scout leader.


Last Thursday, the second day of the case, Mr Justice David Keane was told it had been settled. Sasha Louise Gayer SC, for the man, said the case could be struck out.

The man, who has a degree, has not worked in a full time capacity for 29 years, the court heard. One of his allegations included that the first incident of alleged sexual assault took place in a tent at the Scouting Ireland national scout centre at Larch Hill, Tibradden, south Co Dublin, when he was a 12-year-old scout.

Against the Christian Brothers in Ireland and two named Christian Brothers, it was claimed there was a failure to take proper precautions for the child’s safety and to protect him from the potential of sexual assault, battery, or trespass to his person. It was also claimed there was failure to warn the boy of the dangerous nature of schools he was attending.

Both the Christian Brothers in Ireland and Scouting Ireland had denied the claims and contended the action was statute barred.

Ms Gayer said one of the Brothers was later prosecuted in relation to an assault on the boy when he was in fifth class at national school. At the time, the Christian Brothers in Ireland said when the man made a complaint in 1998, the Christian Brother was removed from teaching and sent for counselling.

Scouting review

The case is the first to come before the High Court involving Scouting Ireland since revelations of a major historic child abuse scandal at the youth organisation emerged last November.

A Scouting Ireland internal review identified 321 alleged victims, and 247 alleged perpetrators accused of molesting children. The alleged abuse took place in legacy organisations, the Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland and the Scout Association of Ireland, which later merged to form Scouting Ireland in 2004.

Scouting Ireland hired law firm Mason Hayes & Curran to assess the potential legal liabilities of the historic abuse. The firm reviewed the abuse files, and compiled a report for the organisation’s board on the potential exposure.

Based on the firm’s assessment, the board took the view that Scouting Ireland is a going concern and can remain operational. However, the potential financial liabilities are estimated to run up to several million euro, according to one source.

The recently settled case had been initiated before the public scandal broke last year.

The level of insurance cover Scouting Ireland can rely on is a point of concern within the organisation, due to difficulties locating insurance records relating to one of the legacy scout bodies.

Scouting Ireland said it could not comment on whether the recent High Court settlement was covered by its insurers, or any aspects of the case.

The man had been represented by Coleman Legal Partners, which specialises in abuse cases. The firm has a further 20 individuals alleging they were abused while in legacy scouting organisations, according to partner Dave Coleman.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times