Report reveals cover-ups and Church links, write Ellen Coyne and Conor Feehan
It was 1995, and the phone was ringing in the Scouting Ireland headquarters.
At the other end of the phone was a man who started talking about how he had been abused by a scout volunteer over the course of three years from the age of 10.
The man was able to recall at least eight different instances of abuse at the hands of 'Subject A', which had happened more than 20 years before.
He also revealed how Subject A would let his friends - some from UK scouting organisations, some who weren't involved in scouting at all - abuse children as well.
The reason the man was calling now was because he had just seen a picture of his abuser, in full scout uniform, at a scout event.
At first, nothing was done.
The report was ignored, or passed on.
Finally, the person who answered the phone managed to get a hearing.
Subject A, the abuser, seemed relieved. He said it was known he was not able to control his sexual impulses when among young people, and he had unsuccessfully tried to resign from Scouting Ireland before.
Some 20 years on from first abusing the man on the phone, Subject A left the organisation.
The case was only recently reported to the gardaí.
The case of Subject A is one of a number of "shocking and deeply disturbing" case studies included in Ian Elliott's report on Scouting Ireland.
The report said the "horrific" case of Subject A, who is now dead, was an example of a failure to protect young people from sexual predators.
Subject A, a "self-confessed, prolific sex offender", was supported and protected by others in Scouting Ireland who have allegations against themselves.
It was one example of what the report described as a culture of self-interest and cronyism in a "seriously dysfunctional organisation with sex offenders dominating the leadership for decades".
Far from being asked to leave, sex offenders rose to the top. The report said those with a sexual interest in children were "protected and supported by others who had a similar interest".
Sex abuse "was known about and tolerated within scouting in some situations".
The report said senior volunteers who were prepared to be unpopular by tackling abuse when they saw it "were the exception rather than the rule".
One victim reported how a national officer had let another scout leader use his home to abuse the victim.
Someone who tried to report a senior volunteer for abuse was told the person was "too important to be accused of abuse".
Mr Elliott's report seems incredulous that there are still people who think this abuser was a "great scout".
In another case, a "prolific" abuser, who was also a priest, was brought to the attention of his superiors after five young teenage boys came forward.
A letter to Scouting Ireland's headquarters about the man's actions was never filed, and was hidden at the home of another alleged abuser.
A close link between the Christian Boy Scouts of Ireland and the Catholic Church led to "noted clerical offenders" being involved in scouting, and the review said that these abusers "found an acceptance of their practices".
The report told how a scout leader had shown up at a camp only to see a person who had left scouting because of a sexual abuse allegation and a known sex offender priest together "in the middle of a group of young people".
The report found that abuse was covered "by a combination of incompetence and intent".
In 2018, a survivor contacted Scouting Ireland and reported how he had been raped by a former scout leader who had given the victim alcohol.
The report said there seemed to be widespread knowledge of the former scout leader's abuse.
When the abuser died, volunteers refused to participate in a guard of honour at his funeral.
One senior volunteer said he had been asked to "keep an eye on" the abuser at camps.
Despite this, there was no reference to allegations of abuse in files about the man.
The report criticised the "chaotic" record-keeping at Scouting Ireland.
There were records of people who were accused of abuse having to resign, but no paperwork relating to the reason why they were resigning.
The loss and destruction of documents means the true scale of the abuse cover-up may never be known.
In some cases, people accused of abuse were allowed to keep records in their home.
An alleged abuser was using records in his house to either prevent investigation or "manipulate people".
In one case, the family of a deceased volunteer burned records which he had kept in his home.
In another, a retired senior volunteer tried to use the shredder in the Scouting Ireland office to destroy records relating to a "prolific offender", which he had been keeping in his home.
Even a man who was a confirmed sex abuser, who had been prosecuted three times, had no records kept on him.
Protecting Scouting Ireland's reputation was prioritised.
When abusers were discovered, they would sometimes be asked to resign - keeping their "good name" and allowing them to move on to another youth organisation.
Mr Elliott said he believed what happened in Scouting Ireland "could be present in other Irish youth organisations".
Mr Elliott was initially recruited to carry out a "desktop", document-based review, but ended up working with Scouting Ireland for two years on new safeguarding structures.
"My work was supported by some and bitterly opposed by others. This remains the case," he said.
In some cases, people tried to "frustrate the process of holding people accountable".
The report said the practice of protecting "mates" was still evident in Scouting Ireland, even as the major review into sexual abuse was being carried out.
"This had embedded a culture of protection from perceived attack from those outside your clique, over the prioritisation of the safety and protection of young people in the organisation.
"Where the protection of the clique became more important than safeguarding the vulnerable young person," the report said.
Scouting Ireland yesterday apologised to victims of abuse in the group.
Anne Griffin, CEO of Scouting Ireland, said she wanted to assure all of its members and the wider public that Scouting Ireland is a very different organisation today.
"Over the past three years we have implemented new governance and safeguarding structures which I believe help us to stamp out any lingering elements of this damaging behaviour," she said.
Young people who may be in crisis and need support can text SCOUTS to 086 1800 280 to speak to a trained volunteer