Scouts Canada and Their Failure to Report Sexual Abuse

by John McKiggan

Scouts Canada has come under fire in past years from critics and victims alike for the organization’s failure to report to the police instances and allegations of sexual abuse and assault by adult leaders against children. This apparent inaction is thought, by some, to be part of a systemic effort to protect child molesters within their ranks. Whether or not these claims are true has yet to be determined, but what has been determined by numerical data is that there has been some level of failure on the part of the Scouts Canada to report all instances of sexual abuse and assault to the authorities.

In October 2011, CBC first reported that Scouts Canada had signed confidentiality agreements out-of-court with more than a dozen child sex-abuse victims, and two months later, Scouts Canada issued a blanket apology to former scouts who were sexually assaulted by adult leaders as children.

In February 2012, Steve Kent, chief commissioner of Scouts Canada, acknowledged that Scouts Canada did not, in fact, report all allegations of sexual abuse and assault to police, despite decades of assurance that they had indeed done so, and handed off previously-confidential dossiers to auditing firm KPMG for investigation.

The KPMG Audit of Scouts Canada

A 2012 CBC article reports that Scouts Canada hired auditing firm KPMG to examine 486 cases from 1947 to 2011 in which adult scouting leaders were suspended or terminated on allegations of sexual abuse, misconduct or assault, following an investigation featured on CBC’s The Fifth Estate which examined how the organization has dealt with past instances of abuse within its ranks.

The vast majority of these instances (328, or approximately ⅔) were reported to have been made with the knowledge that “authorities appear to have been aware of the situation before it came to the attention of Scouts,” or that police had been the first to approach the Scouts about sexual assault before the incident arose internally.

In the remaining 158 files, however, there is only evidence that the authorities were contacted in 29 of these cases. With regards to the other 129 files, 64 were found to be “unclear” on whether or not any information was shared with the police, based on an independent review released by the Scouts following the revelation by KPMG. The final 65 files were revealed to have not been shared with the police whatsoever, despite past assurances by Scouts Canada that they had informed police about every instance of abuse and assault that had occurred in their ranks for decades.

What These Numbers Really Mean

John McKiggan Q.C., a lawyer with decades of experience representing survivors of historical sexual assault had this to say:

“What is even more appalling is we know for sure from the KPMG audit is that Scouts Canada didn’t report in 41% of the cases and may not have reported it in another 41%. They could only establish that the abuse was reported 18% of the time! To me, that is evidence of systemic negligence.”

Despite this, Kent maintains that the review “found no systemic intent to cover up or hide incidents of abuse,” adding that “any instances where things were not reported to authorities in a timely fashion—any instances are unacceptable.”

Kent explains that past inactions of Scouts Canada resulted from the fact that in some instances, individuals were unsure of how to report abuse or if it was necessary to report; on other occasions, while an instance of sexual assault was inappropriate for a Scouts leader, it may not have been “necessarily criminal in nature, and therefore did not require reporting to authorities.”

Contact Us

Regardless of how long ago it happened, any instance of sexual abuse and assault is never acceptable, and legal options exist to help bring offenders to justice. McKiggan Hebert’s team of experienced lawyers have represented hundreds of victims of sexual abuse, helping victims receive compensation for what happened to them in the past in a compassionate and thorough manner. If you or a loved one has been sexually abused or assaulted at any point, contact us to discuss your case and seek out justice today.

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