News / Kitchener

Pain continues for family of boy abused by scout leader

WATERLOO REGION — Waterloo regional police recently received a report from Scouts Canada of alleged sexual misconduct by one its volunteers that dates back to 42 years ago.

The revelation stems from an independent review of six decades of Scouts Canada records that revealed the organization failed at least 65 times to report allegations of sexual wrongdoing to authorities.

The local case is one of the 65.

“We did receive one report where Scouts Canada is now disclosing a possible historic incident that had not been previously reported to police,” said Staff Sgt. Tom Matthews, who heads the force’s major case unit which investigates sex crimes.

The alleged incident occurred in 1970 and involved a scout leader and a boy, said Matthews, declining to give any further information about the case.

He said it will be assigned to an investigator. The first hurdle will be to locate the alleged complainant.

“There is potentially a victim out there so we will do our best to locate the individual,” Matthews said Tuesday.

On Monday, Scouts Canada released the results of a seven-month forensic review of how it handled sexual misconduct in its ranks over a 64-year period.

Scouts Canada had asked KPMG to go through all its records after a CBC investigation last fall uncovered dozens of confidentiality agreements that prevented victims from speaking out.

The report looked at 468 cases of alleged sexual misconduct over the years and found 65 cases where Scouts Canada officials did not share information with authorities when the allegation of sexual wrongdoing came to their attention.

Authorities are now being contacted about those 65 cases.

The report said that before 1992 — when the law changed requiring mandatory reporting to police — authorities were aware of 65 per cent of the cases at Scouts Canada. After 1992, that number grew to 85 per cent.

Steve Kent, chief commissioner of Scouts Canada, said the review revealed serious problems in procedures that need to be fixed.

He promised the organization would beef up its screening of volunteers and offer counselling to victims.

Those promises fall short for a Kitchener mother whose son was one of 21 victims of former local Scout leader Brian Durham.

In January 2001, Durham, now 53, pleaded guilty to 27 sex-related charges involving 20 boys and one girl between the ages of two and 12. A year later, Durham was declared a dangerous offender because of the serious harm he caused his victims, many of whom were members of his scout troop.

Today, two of his victims are in jail — one is the Kitchener mother’s son.

Another of Durham’s victims committed suicide.

Scouts Canada “has no clue the damage that has been done, and continues to be done, because of their inaction years ago,” said the mother, who can’t be identified because of a court order that prevents publishing any information which may identify the victims.

She said the abuse has torn her family apart.

She said Durham started abusing her son in the early 1990s, but she didn’t know about it until the Kitchener scout leader was arrested in March 2001.

The abuse came to light when another mother contacted Family and Children’s Services of the Waterloo Region after her son told her that Durham inappropriately touched him. Police were contacted and then Scouts Canada.

The Kitchener mother said she fought for years to get counselling for her son and Durham’s other victims. But Scouts Canada turned a deaf ear, she said.

The mother and families of four other boys sexually assaulted by Durham sued Scouts Canada for $12.5 million. The case was settled out of court and a confidentiality clause prevents disclosure of the settlement.

The lawsuit claimed Scouts Canada was negligent by failing to conduct a criminal background check on Durham before he became a leader in 1990.

It was not until 2000 that Scouts Canada incorporated rigid screening procedures for its 40,000 volunteers.

A 1986 sexual assault conviction against Durham went undetected because he had received a pardon for the offence just days before he had to hand in his criminal records check to the district office of Scouts Canada.

“Even now it affects me so badly,” the mother said of Scouts Canada’s failure to protect the children in its care.

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