A First Look at the Boy Scouts (Or: When You’re on a Good Thing, Stick to It)

What is unique about the Australian royal commission is that it will investigate both religious and non-religious organisations. The same methods have been used in both situations to protect their assets and reputations by protecting offenders. Here, the Boy Scouts of Australia (BSA) is examined for using tactics more well-known for the Catholic Church.

Firstly, there is the attempt to minimise the crime. When Gregory John Kench, a South Australian Scout leader was sentenced to 6 years’ prison, his lawyer said he, “was a caring and compassionate man who allowed his fondness for the boys to overstep the mark.” The judge, however, said the boys had been traumatised.

Next, there is the tactic of giving the public the impression that reports of frequency of abuse are exaggerated. In 1995, the Scout association complained to the Press Council over negative stereotyping in the media arising from reports on the sexual abuse of children.

Then there is the good old tactic of not reporting offenders to police, but just moving the offender to another location. Convicted Scout paedophile, Steven “Skip” Larkins, had been reported to scouting administrators in the early to mid 1990s. The officials took years to, “officially suspend him”, and in the interim, allowed him to attending Scouting events.

In 1997, a report was made to police by a whistleblower about Larkins, after which the Scouts association promised to remove him from any contact with children. However, later Larkins was observed taking a group of Scouts to the Dreamworld theme park. Scouting Australia justified this because, “Larkins had been promised a trip.” It was noted that Scouting rules at the time allowed Larkins to move to another local group, which he did.

Scout leader, Paul Hayes, also known by his Scouting name, “Grisly”, was accused of molesting eight boys over a two-year period in Canberra and Sydney, but was not reported to police. In the early 1980s, he was accused of raping a 10-year-old boy after a performance of the Scouting production known as “The Gang Show”.

Following Hayes’ denial, he was suspended for only six weeks, and within months, was appointed leader of the troupe in a Scout hall in Sydney, having moved from Canberra.

The final and serious tactic borrowed from the religious institutions was to put pressure on whistleblowers and victims alike. In the Larkins case, whistleblower, Mr Hoitink, said he was admonished by a Scout official for not contacting the Scout association first and letting them handle it.

In the Hayes case, one member of the investigating committee tried to discredit the victim by claiming that the boy had close relatives who were homosexual. Instead of referring the Hayes case to police, the committee decided to seek legal advice. This advice included the statement that, “it seems your association has done all you should in the circumstances … I have a sneaking suspicion that Mr Hayes has been cleverly exploited.”

It worked well for the Catholic Church and it is so far working well for the Boy Scouts of Australia, so why change tactics, hey?

Read more here:

TOMORROW: Australia’s own “perversion files”

That’s all I can say

Lewis Blayse (né Lewin Blazevich)


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