Scout abuse victim wins compensation despite claim being ‘out of time’.
John Bates has been described as the ‘Jimmy Savile’ of the Scouting world. As well as holding a position of trust as a Scout leader, he was a serving Police officer with Lincolnshire Police for a number of years. However, we now know that Bates used this persona of authority and respect to groom and sexually abuse young boys. He would be excessively tactile with the boys and groom them to form a close ‘friendship’. Bates would invite boys back to his house under the guise of requiring assistance with Scouting activities. Once there, he would behave inappropriately with the boys and show them pornographic magazines. It was during such visits that Bates sexually abused his victims.
Following widespread reports of sexual abuse taking place within the Scouts, our client made contact with our specialist team of abuse lawyers. Rachel Thain agreed to help him with a claim for compensation on a no win – no fee basis.
The claim related to historic abuse which had taken place over 40 years previously. It was clear from the outset that time would be a significant issue in the case, with the standard time limit for such cases to be brought having expired in the early 1980s. Bates had been convicted in 1983 for offences against our client and other boys. It was therefore important for us to obtain evidence regarding this conviction in support of our client’s allegations. By proving that our client was a victim of abuse at the hands of John Bates, Rachel was then able to hold the Scouts legally responsible for harm caused to our client.
As is often the case with historic sexual abuse, it was not until comparatively recently that our client felt able to consider pursing a claim for compensation. He had been unable to discuss the abuse he had suffered since the time of the conviction and had attempted to move on with his life. However, his horrifying experiences of abuse continued to haunt him and eventually he found the strength to confront his past.
Rachel faced difficulties in obtaining documents connected with the criminal investigation. Due to the amount of time that had passed since the original Police investigation in the early 1980s, records and documents had been lost or destroyed. This is a common problem faced in historic abuse cases. The documents that could not be traced included the statement our client provided to the Police and papers relating to the conviction in 1983. During the course of our enquiries, a further criminal investigation took place in relation to sexual abuse perpetrated by John Bates on other young Scouts. He was convicted in May 2016 of further offences against boys and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for his crimes. Although Rachel was able to obtain documents to confirm the conviction of Bates in 1983, no paperwork existed which confirmed that our client was a named victim in those criminal proceedings. Nevertheless Rachel’s persistence did eventually pay off and she successfully secured the proof needed.
Medical evidence was also obtained. This recommended treatment for our client to treat a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder resulting from the abuse.
We were then able to enter into negotiations with the Scout Association and its insurers. This resulted in an out of court settlement being reached. Our client was happy with the compensation package we negotiated which gave him the funds to undergo the treatment he needed on a private basis.
When the scout abuse claim was concluded, our client gave the following feedback in relation to Rachel’s assistance with his claim:-
“Your outstanding professionalism and expertise helped to get a suitable resolution in a reasonable timescale and for that I shall be eternally grateful. Thank you once again from the bottom of my heart to finally put this episode of my life to bed”.
When asked to comment on the case, Rachel said,
“It is common for the passage of time to cause significant difficulties in historic cases of this nature. As well as the limitation period having long expired, which in itself can cause a claim to fail, gathering evidence and documentation can be very challenging in such circumstances. However, with perseverance and thinking outside of the box it is possible to overcome even the most significant hurdles. I was very pleased with the outcome achieved for my client in this case, but most importantly he was happy with the service we provided him with. Each case is different and should be approached as such. I am proud of the ethos of our abuse department at Slee Blackwell as we pride ourselves on the understanding and support we provide to our clients as we guide them through what is often a difficult journey. This is a striking example of a situation where the process of the claim has allowed our client to achieve a sense of closure and move on with his life”.
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