Scouts kept file on paedophile leader Steven Larkins, royal commission told (ABC) - ( 4U5TR4L14 )

The Royal Commission into child abuse has heard Scouts Australia kept a file on a paedophile scout leader and had suspended him after abuse allegations.

The second day of public hearings is focusing on how Scouts Australia and four other organisations responded to allegations against former scout leader Steven Larkins.

He is currently serving a jail sentence for offences that include possessing child pornography, after evading prosecution for a number of years.

Former Scouts Australia CEO Peter Olah told the royal commission that Larkins was suspended in 2003 after a boy came forward with allegations of sexual abuse.

He said a behavioural file was kept about Larkins and it was possible other organisations received complaints about him.

Mr Olah said the Scouts encouraged the boy to go to police.

He told the inquiry that after the incident procedures were changed to try and give better protection to children – but the changes were opposed by some members of the organisation.

“There was a lot of anger about what we introduced,” he said.

Mr Olah said during his three years in the job he dealt with 10 allegations of child sexual abuse.

He admitted a number of children were sexually abused or harmed and said the Scouts failed them.

“Any circumstance where a child is harmed is a failure,” he told the hearing.

Earlier this morning, former Scouts regional commissioner Allan Currie said he had no training in how to deal with the allegations against Steven Larkins.

He said Larkins was suspended but not sacked because the organisation feared he would accuse it of discrimination because he was part Aboriginal.

â??We had nothing from any authority to say heâ??d done anything wrong,” he said.

“The feeling was that if we reinstated him and if he caused any further issues that it would be bad, but if we dismissed him, he could then use the racial discrimination card.

“We didnâ??t know whether to go one way or the other. So the suggestion was we ask him to resign.â?

Mr Currie said he did not know if legal advice had been sought about Steven Larkins.

Yesterday the commission heard testimony from two victims, who spoke of the profound effect the sexual abuse had on their lives.

The inquiry was also told Larkins was allowed to work with children, despite being caught showering with them and putting love notes under their doors.

Later this year, the commission will turn its attention to the case of Jonathan Lord, who worked with the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in southern Sydney.

The third public hearing will look at the handling of complaints and legal action concerning the North Coast Children’s Home by the Anglican Diocese of Grafton.

The final public hearing for this year will hear evidence about the Catholic Church’s Towards Healing process.

The commission’s interim report is expected to be handed down on June 30 next year.

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