‘Negligently amateur’: Survivor decries Scouts’ inquiry into alleged abuse at 13

Case study: Lucy Pincott says ordeal of sexual assault was made worse by the way her case was handled

Lucy Pincott alleges she was sexually assaulted a number of times by a young scout leader when she was 13 and member of a troop. She says her ordeal was made worse by the way her case was handled.

“It took years for me to come to terms with being sexually assaulted by a junior leader on multiple occasions,” said Pincott, now 27. “At that time the concern among leaders was only to keep this matter quiet so that no one got into trouble.”

She reported her case to the police in 2016, but officers did not contact the Scout Association’s headquarters. After the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to proceed with the case in 2018, Pincott contacted the association herself. It agreed to run an internal inquiry but she said the scout leaders involved had, by their own admission, never dealt with a case such as hers and she described their investigation as “negligently amateur”.

After Pincott obtained private messages from a scout leader in 2019 warning former scouts not to provide information and which included victim blaming and insulting descriptions of her, the association agreed to an independent external inquiry.

The messages, which Pincott obtained through a subject access request, said she was “well-endowed”, would “wear revealing clothes”, was “overweight” and “came across as a victim”. The Scout Association said the relevant leader was suspended when it learned of the messages and remains so.

The association’s most senior executives “refused an independent inquiry until we discovered that emails between its own people were not only critical of me, that being raped many times over was partly my own fault when I was 13,” she said.

This third-party report into the allegations was highly critical of the association’s response.

Bolt Burdon Kemp solicitors, acting for Pincott, secured an out-of-court settlement of £160,000 from the Scout Association last year, but it did not admit liability.

She wants the association’s chief executive, chief of operations and safeguarding leaders associated with her case to resign. “Only then will I know that there is a chance for today’s scouts to enjoy scouting safely and yesterday’s victims to be treated with dignity and respect, and not as an inconvenience,” she said.

A Scout Association spokesperson said: “Once we had been informed of the case, in line with our safeguarding procedures, we immediately engaged with statutory agencies and agreed with them to undertake a local enquiry. We followed this with an external independent review at the request of Lucy and her family, after further evidence came to light.”

“The Scout Association condemns any form of victim blaming and seeks to take a victim-centred approach in handling such difficult matters.”

“We would like to take this opportunity to again sincerely apologise to Lucy.”


Haroon Siddique Legal affairs correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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