..A Bulawayo boy scouts troop leader Norman Scott, who is in his 70s, is facing allegations of sexually abusing boys since Rhodesian days, with his alleged victims now demanding for justice to prevail.
The abuse, some of which is alleged to have taken place at Matopo National Park, came to light last year in November when one of his alleged victims, now an adult, decided to open up.
His decision led to four other male adults also coming out in the open about their ordeal at the hands of Scott.
One of the victims is based in Australia, another in South Africa and three in Marondera, the capital of Mashonaland East Province.
The victims organised themselves and got Scott arrested, but the case has not advanced in any way, they said. They are working closely with Mr Neil Munro, who in January initiated a campaign for Scott to step down as a leader of the scouts due to the sexual abuse allegations levelled against him.
Mr Munro says he was jolted into action following the outbreak of Covid-19 when his children, who were boy scouts, told him that Scott was stripping naked in the presence of minors, saying they should be comfortable with their bodies.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed Scott’s arrest, but added that the prosecution has requested for more evidence from the suspects.
“I confirm that police arrested the suspect. We also have dockets where the prosecution has given instructions on what needs to be done in terms of medical reports. The prosecution has raised some concerns that some witnesses are not co-operating,” said Asst Comm Nyathi.
“It is incumbent upon the complainants to co-operate with the courts. But all in all, the police have done their part and we call upon the complainants to comply with what is required by the courts.”
Mr Munro, however, told Chronicle that the sexual abuse victims were eager that the law takes its course and they had not been contacted to move the case forward.
He said he confronted the boy scouts’ leader over the sexual abuse claims and he admitted to have done it in the past.
The claim could not be independently verified as Mr Scott could not be immediately reached for comment.
“He claimed that he was no longer doing it. But how I got involved in all this is that following the Covid-19 lockdown, I sent my minor children to participate in boy scout activities.
So, when my kids returned, they raised alarm over Scott’s conduct. But luckily my children were not abused. So, I confronted him over the issue of boys’ abuse and he claimed that he was no longer doing it although he admitted that he used to do it in the past,” said Mr Munro.
He said he decided to take Scott to court in a bid to prevent him from being involved in any activities with the boy scouts, a move that opened a can of worms.
Mr Munro said five adults came forward claiming that they were also abused by the same man when they were still in their teens.
He said the victims were told to report to their nearest police station.
This led to his brief arrest and he was detained at Matobo Police Station as the crime was committed at Matopo National Park. But he did not spend a night at the police station as his lawyer secured his release and we were told that the case was going to proceed through summons,” said Mr Munro.
He said in March he was taken to Gwanda Provincial Magistrate Court, but the matter did not go into court.
Mr Munro said the victims have been patiently waiting for the case to proceeds to no avail.
“Up to now there has not been any court appearance where the complainants could have appeared before a magistrate or prosecution. We are getting concerned as parents that things are not progressing. Some of the complainants are out of the country, one is in Spain, one is in South Africa, Johannesburg, three are in Marondera and I’m their focal person here,” said Mr Munro.
“I have been in contact with them regularly and they have not been contacted by anyone to give them a court date. So they are obviously concerned they are giving their messages back to me asking ‘what is going on we made these statements but we are waiting for a court date and it is taking a lot of time’.”
He said it was brave for the victims to come forward despite their alleged abuse having occurred a long time ago.
Mr Munro said the suspect should have his day in court so that the victims get justice.
“Any allegation which is quite serious like this when it comes to child sexual abuse or physical abuse is a serious allegation, so I think it is important for the police and law enforcement agents to follow it up. To me the risk is that if someone is guilty and they are roaming around the streets with no rules, there is nothing stopping them from carrying on committing these crimes. They need to be tried and if they are found guilty or innocent, so be it,” said Mr Munro.
Chronicle is in possession of a statement that was made by one of the victims, a 55-year-old man who participated in the scout activities in 1979 when he was 12 years.
He said Scott was in his early 30s then.
“The sexual acts happened at Gordon Park between the period 1979 to 1981 where Norman Scott would create an environment to be alone. Acts of sexual abuse included masturbation and oral sex on more than 10 occasions,” read the statement.
The victim said the suspect would lubricate himself before anally abusing his victims.
“For the past 40 years, I have felt an overwhelming shame and guilt from being abused and allowing myself to be abused after the initial indecent assault. I have felt awful guilt of not reporting the sexual abuse when it happened, which undoubtedly allowed tens of boys to be abused over the next 40 years. I know I should not own the shame and guilt, but I do,” said the victim.
The victim said he was ready to even provide forensic evidence to take the matter forward.
Another victim said following Scott’s initial arrest, they were optimistic that justice was finally going to be delivered.
He said delays in taking the case forward is creating anxiety among victims.
“The delay has caused a great deal of anxiety particularly as it is extremely stressful to confront past ‘demons’ and takes a great deal of courage to report a sexual assault of this nature to the police,” said another victim. Chronicle
NewsdzeZimbabwe at Thursday, August 18, 2022
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