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Experiences Shared


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Marcus was sexually abused during the 1960s and 70s by men from his local Scout Association and the church.

His quest for acknowledgment, an apology and recompense has been impeded by the length of time it took him to report the sexual abuse. He points out: ‘It is very difficult to actually complain about something you didn’t really recognise was going on.’

He describes his early childhood as idyllic, growing up in the countryside. But when his parents separated his mother was left to bring up her children alone and he says: ‘She sort of stopped being a mum really and became a provider.’

They moved to a deprived area of a town, but Marcus’s mother ensured he was involved in local activities, including the Scouts, choir and church groups. Marcus says that as soon as he joined the Scouts, the Scoutmasters started grooming him.

The Scout Association and church were closely linked and over the next three to four years he was physically and sexually abused by men in both organisations. He recalls that one of the Scout leaders, Percy, was particularly clever in grooming Marcus and the other boys. He ingratiated himself with Marcus’s mother who thought he was wonderful.

A policeman called Liam joined the Scout group and he too began abusing Marcus and the other boys. Marcus describes Liam as: ‘A really nasty piece of work; a bully who got kicks from hurting the children.’

Marcus says that sexual abuse was quite widespread in local groups and the church, with numerous adults abusing lots of children. Marcus believes the Scout Association knew about the sexual abuse. He remembers that one former Scoutmaster was not allowed to be with the boys on a one-on-one basis but would turn up at events to watch them.

As Marcus got older, he became big enough to fight against what was happening and eventually the abusers left him alone. He had been a very bright pupil doing well at school, but as his behaviour changed and his work suffered no one bothered to find out what was going on.

Marcus’s behaviour continued to deteriorate; he got involved with ‘the wrong type of people’, ending up in trouble with the police and being sent to borstal. Although it was a tough environment, Marcus says it was stable and beneficial for him to be taken away from the area. He worked hard and gained several qualifications and a trade.

Although his job opportunities were limited by his criminal record, Marcus went on to have a successful working life. He got married and had a ‘lovely family’.

It was only a few years ago, seeing media coverage, that he realised his experiences as a child were sexual abuse, and he began to recollect the full extent of it. He made a report to the police. They spent a long time investigating and Marcus says it felt good that he was being believed and action was being taken. But a senior police officer decided that there was insufficient corroborative evidence and the investigation was closed.

Marcus suspects that this may be connected with the fact that one of the abusers had been a police officer. He has made a claim for criminal injuries compensation, which was rejected because of the delay between the sexual abuse and the time it was reported. He has challenged this decision.

Marcus feels let down by the police and also feels strongly that the Scout Association should acknowledge they were totally culpable for what happened to him. He describes the Scouts as a magnet for child abusers and says that those who knew what was going on turned a blind eye.

He wants recognition and an apology for what happened. He says: ‘The reason I’m here today is I’m getting annoyed about it … these people are now popping off with a clean slate … it’s not right … they need to be held accountable.’

Overall Marcus feels he has coped quite well with life despite the awful experiences of his childhood and adolescence. He is receiving help through talking therapy from a local counselling centre which he finds beneficial, and the long-term physical conditions he lives with have begun to improve.

He believes that schools need to monitor unexplained changes in children’s behaviour and create the right environment for children to disclose abuse if they need to. He also would like a system for mentoring between appropriate adults and children involved in the criminal justice system – an independent but public service.

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