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Ron Pearce

Published: 07 February 2020
Author: Brianna Brown*, Samantha Gates* and Ian Dallas

The grubby history of abuse at Scouts Victoria

Scout leaders are among the worst perpetrators of abuse in the Australian sports and recreational sector. In this blog, we identify some of the worst scout perpetrators convicted of sexual abuse in Victoria.

Condemnation of scouts organisations was first voiced in 2013, by The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Its report exposed the largely inadequate steps taken by senior members of Australian scout groups to protect children from well-known perpetrators.

In 2016, then General Manager of Scouts Australia, Andrew Smith, acknowledged that despite the implementation of a child protection policy at a national level, no formal “root-cause” analysis had been done regarding prior allegations of abuse. Demonstrating the size and severity of the issue, this startling revelation provides us with an understanding of the many reasons why survivors withheld sharing their stories for so long – some even decades later.

In our experience assisting Scout Victoria survivors with their Abuse Law claims, individuals have shared similar feelings of fear and isolation at the time of the alleged abuse. Unsurprisingly this has, in many instances, been as a result of the perpetrators perceived status and authority as ‘respected’ members of the community. However, this elevated status has since been replaced with disgust, after the recent convictions of some of Victoria’s worst Scout perpetrators.

Victorian Scout predators brought to justice

In 2017, former scout leader, Neville Budge, was convicted of sexually abusing eight young boys between the years of 1995 and 2002, whilst working as a Scout leader in the Belmont and Geelong district. The court referred to his manipulative and predatory actions, labelling his crimes as being “simply abhorrent”.

In the same year, former scout leader Chris Edmondson was convicted of the sexual abuse of three young boys between 1975 and 1978 in Warrandyte. Edmondson preyed on the young and vulnerable, a trait which he shares with countless other Scout perpetrators. Shockingly, on one occasion he sexually abused a young boy for having not known the answer to an assessment question. As reported by The Age in 2018, Edmondson was jailed in Queensland in 2006 and released in 2012, then jailed in Victoria in 2015 again, had his sentence extended in 2016 and would have been eligible for parole in January of 2019. The outcome of the proceedings is unclear to date.

Kim Richard Harvey

Of those convicted, former Scout leader Kim Richard Harvey is perhaps the most prominent figure to join the growing list of convicted scout perpetrators.

As a result of his predatory behaviour, Harvey was jailed for the sexual abuse of 15 teenage boys in Melbourne’s South Eastern suburbs between the years of 1974 and 1989. Harvey’s behaviour posed a uniquely disturbing pattern, whereby premeditated grooming was a natural part of his ‘game’; often plying his victims with alcohol, lollies and pornography.

Harvey’s crimes were not just isolated to local scout halls but continued throughout various camping trips and activities in his role as a leader with Scouts Victoria.

Justice for survivors of Scout abuse

Many survivors may be unaware of their legal rights when seeking access to justice. At RCT Law, we encourage survivors to consider pursuing a civil claim if they have suffered abuse perpetrated by Scouts leaders. There are a number of ways to seek compensation, and we can advise accordingly. It is important to bear in mind that a criminal conviction is not necessary for a claim of compensation.

How RCT can help with your Common Law claim

RCT Law’s Abuse Law practice acts for survivors of abuse from Scouts Victoria and has assisted them in obtaining compensation from this institution.

These individuals recount disturbing allegations of sexual abuse, perpetrated by former volunteers of Scouts Victoria. RCT has helped survivors of Scout abuse from a number of regions across Victoria including Geelong, South Yarra, Coburg and East Gippsland.

Our first appointment is free and we work on a ‘no win, no fee or expenses’ basis. Survivors are encouraged to make an enquiry via our website, by email at enquires@rctlaw.com.au or call 1300 366 441.

*Brianna Brown and Samantha Gates are second year law students at Monash University and are currently working as casual paralegals at RCT.

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