Scout leader accused of sexually abusing boys for 40 years

The leader of a Boy Scouts troop in Bulawayo has been accused of sexually abusing young boys for the past 40 years.

Norman Scott who is in his early 70s is the leader of the 1st Pioneer Scouts and would allegedly prey on young boys who were members of his troop.

Some parents whose children are members of Scott’s troop and the Boys Scouts Association of Zimbabwe have since approached the courts seeking a peace order barring him from coming into contact with any of the scouts.

The matter came into light in 2020 when Neil Munro, the first applicant took his two sons to join 1st Pioneer Scouts.

It was when he was in contact with some ex-scouts with a view to assisting Scott with funding needs for the scout park, Gordon Park, that he was told that the man they sought to help had been abusing boys for decades.

Scott, who according to court papers resides in Burnside, Bulawayo, has since been asked to resign from his position following these shocking revelations.

Cases of children being abused in the Boy Scout movement have been also reported across the globe. In the United Kingdom and Ireland for instance, more than 250 people have been convicted of child sexual abuse while they were scout leaders with some cases dating back to the 1950s.

In a fresh court application dated 21 December 2021, Munro (first applicant) and Boys Scouts Association of Zimbabwe (second applicant), represented by Webb, Low & Barry Inc. Ben Barron & Partners (legal practitioners) are seeking a peace order barring Scott from any involvement with the scouts.

“I am eager to protect my children and countless others from the perverse conduct of the respondent and the experiences suffered by some of the former scouts at his hands,” said Munro in his founding affidavit

“In the premises, I seek the assistance of this Honourable Court in stopping the respondent from coming with 200 metres of any of the scouts or scout property or scout halls or scout campgrounds, and from perpetrating any further assaults, injury or threatening injury or in any way whatsoever interfering with scouts and countless other boys who may come into contact with the respondent.”

Munro explained in detail through his lawyers how sexual abuse within the scouts association was unearthed.

“Sometime in or about August 2020, my wife and I decided to sign our boys up with the 1st Pioneer Scouts Troop as we had been advised by some colleagues that it was a good way for them to build leadership skills,” said Munro in the court papers.

“At the material time, our boys were 10 and 12 respectively. In that regard, I managed to obtain the respondent’s contact details and advised him that I had two sons who were interested in becoming members of the 1st Pioneer Scouts Troop.”

He said after he and his wife met with Scott at Gordon Park in Matopos and they agreed that the boys would attend weekly meetings to get accustomed to the procedures of the 1st Pioneer Scouts Troop.

Munro said his children later complained that Scott had behaved strangely towards them.

“After one of their hikes my boys advised me that the respondent had behaved quite strangely towards them and taken his clothes off and sat in a shallow rock pool and encouraged them to join him,” said Munro.

“My children then advised me that they declined to join the respondent and he proceeded to get out of the pool and point out the different landmarks to them while completely naked. My boys further advised me how this made them extremely uncomfortable and how the respondent regularly undressed in front of them before showering at Gordon Park.”

Munro said he was not quick to confront Scott over the issues raised by the children since he had earlier informed him of open showers at camps and how girls were being excluded to allow boys to be ‘free’ with their bodies.

“A couple of months ago, the respondent advised me and my wife that he was not receiving any income or financial support,” Munro further narrated in court papers.

“In an effort to assist him and raise funds for the 1st Pioneer group I got in contact with some former scouts and enquired whether or not they would be interested in donating some money to help support the respondent. One of the former scouts (name withheld) got in contact with me and my wife and advised us that he had been sexually abused by the respondent. We immediately advised other parents who had their children in the 1st Pioneer Scouts Troop and confronted the respondent regarding the above-mentioned allegation. The respondent admitted to having sexually abused (name withheld) and countless others and alleged that it was only a phase in his life that was now in the past.”

Munro said Scott was then asked to resign from his scouting duties and leave Gordon Park with immediate effect.

It was after those revelations, Munro said, that a number of other former scouts came out with similar experiences.

In a Zoom interview with CITE, two former scouts who now live outside the country confirmed they were sexually abused by Scott years back, adding that they believe between 30 to 50 boys could have been abused in the past to 30 to 40 years, 11 have since come out to provide evidence against Scott. The type of sexual abuse, including sodomy detailed in this evidence, is overwhelming.

One of the victims was abused in 1978.

He said it was regrettable that Scott, who targeted vulnerable boys at around the age of 12, betrayed the trust placed on him by the parents.

“People like (name withheld) and I cannot take their criminal court case forward because there is a 20-year statute of limitation,” he said.

“So we cannot take a criminal court case forward.”

He said they were afraid to report the abuse at the time because Scott was considered by parents as an “outstanding Bulawayo community and trusted person.”

“Parents need to double-check organisations involved with youths in all types of organizations to guard against such abuses in the future, said the victim, and look out for any signs of pedophile grooming tactics and ensure their children are not allowed to be unsupervised.”

He said it is worth asking the hard questions early about any organisation’s governance and duty of care to protect.

The second victim, who said he was in touch with other former scouts said the abuse they suffered at the hands of Scott has significantly impacted their lives.

“Of the victims that I spoke to, many of are not yet ready to come forward, had difficulty maintaining relationships, they were confused about their sexual identity, and for some the abuse has caused long-term mental health issues,” he decried.

“Norman has to be held accountable for the damage he has done to so many people. Parents were naïve and just thought this couldn’t be the case, it’s not true and they just brushed it aside. It has only been during the last 10 or so years with the exposure of pedophile networks within the church, boy scouts etc. that I have been able to identify the grooming tactics undertaken by Norman to create a perfect environment for the sexual exploitation of young boys.”

He explained that Scott had a place (Gordon Park) that was at times remote/private where he had an endless supply of young boys seeking the adventure of the boy scouts.

Through that, the victim said, he was able to create an opportunity to be alone with one boy at a time in the process subjecting them to his ‘grooming’ tactics.

“He would openly encourage discussion of masturbation with young boys, and I remember him discussing masturbation with groups of boys when we were as young as 12,” the victim narrated his ordeal.

“He created a culture where it wasn’t bad to touch other boys’ genitals and this became a common game developed by Norman of giving someone a ‘Savage twitch’, which was basically pinching someone on the penis. This was considered as normal behaviour amongst the boys at Gordon Park and actively encouraged by Norman.”

Scott, according to the victim, would allow boys as young as 12 to have alcohol with evening dinners at Gordon Park.

“I remember the piglets (7-8 young boys of about 12-14 years old that showed an interest in developing as full crew members) felt so important and grown up at being able to drink alcohol. This was just one more grooming tactic, making us feel older than we were and special,” he said.

He further narrated: “Norman actively encouraged nudity when swimming in rivers and dams. He would get naked with the boys and there were times he displayed an erection. He would ridicule boys who didn’t sleep in the nude. During scout camps he would give chocolates to boys who admitted they had woken up with an erection.”

He said the accused kept a book on top of his cupboard that he used to show young boys which included amongst other things pictures of sexual positions and always read a section out of the book that stated that it was natural for all boys to be curious about homosexuality.

“He used to make us feel special, such as being handpicked to come out to Gordon Park with him on a Saturday, as that meant we could drive his Land Rover and do an exploration drive through the Matopos National Park,” he said.

“On that note, if we made a mistake whilst driving, we would get a ‘Savage twitch’.  This is completely inappropriate behaviour for an adult to touch a young boy in his privates, but in the context of scouting in Gordon Park it was normalised and considered to be a bit of harmless fun.”

Scott’s ‘favourite’ boys, the victim went on to say, got to stay in his bedroom and his mother would embroider their names at the bottom of the bedspread.

“I remember in my time that at least six boys had their names on the bedspreads,” he said.

“When one boy left or was out of favour, Norman’s mother would change the name on the bedspread.  I never had my name embroidered on to the bedspread but would sleep in his room during the period I was being abused. Once again, this tactic made boys feel special and somewhat elite, which is now obviously well known as a grooming tactic used by pedophiles.”      

Asked why he did not come out at the time, the victim said, “He (Scott) had immense power over us. For many of us victims having now shared our experiences the one thing was common in that we carried a high-level of guilt and shame and thought they were lone victims. Now the realisation has come out that the guilt and shame was never ours to carry in the first place.”

He said parents had so much trust in Scott, whose behaviour was in stark contrast to the values you would expect from a man who made out to be a ‘devout Catholic and trusted Scout leader’.

“We are encouraging all those that have been abused in the past to come forward,” the victim said at his age is now comfortable talking about his experiences, in order to protect others and set an example for others to learn from.

The two, who still consider Bulawayo as their home said they specifically did not wish to do harm to the scouts association in exposing the abuse, but want to right the wrongs as they consider scouting a good thing for youth development and values and also pleased that Scouts now allows Girl Scouts to experience the same.

Some of the victims, who were abused within the 20 years of the statutes of limitations, according to the two have indicated that they would want to proceed with a criminal prosecution against Scott.

“We don’t want to harm the Scouts Associations,” Munro told CITE.

“We want them to continue because of the benefits that scouts have for young people. Our boys are part of the scouts, they don’t want to stop the scouts.”

He said they want to ensure the protection and positive growth of Gordon Park and that it is used by youths for their development around Zimbabwe as it is an exceptional adventure facility that has been developed by volunteers over time.

“The scouts must not be looked upon as somebody to blame,” said Munro.

“We can’t blame anybody except for Norman Scott himself, he is the one that has destroyed it. The abuser has to be punished and no one else.”

Meanwhile, Munro said they were working on guidelines for the safety of children as well as implementing new worldwide scouting standards and policies called “Safe from Harm” that is a set of actions designed to make sure that every person involved in Scouting is responsible and committed to protect children and young people inside or outside the Movement, so everyone can feel safe, at any time.

“We want other youths to join up with scouting,” he emphasized.

Munro added that anyone that may have been abused by Scott in the past to contact them on

He said an international fund has been set up by ex-scouts of Zimbabwe, many who are around the world to assist legal actions in the matter and support victims of these “horrendous” crimes.

During a peace order hearing at the Bulawayo Magistrate Court on Friday, lawyers of the two parties agreed on an amendment of the draft order and in particular paragraphs 2, 3 and 8 before the order could be enforced.

Part of the amendment includes reducing the distance within which Scott can come closer to scouts or their property from 200 to 20 metres.

The magistrate Linear Khumalo upon listening to the submissions of the lawyers then ordered that the amended draft order be submitted to the courts as soon as possible.

Babongeni Zangelo Mlilo, one of the lawyers representing Munro and former scouts, explained what transpired in court.

“What transpired today in court is that the parties came to a consent agreement,” he said.

“The major issue was paragraphs 2 and 3. The parties managed to resolve those and then an order of the consent was then granted by the magistrate. There will be no further proceeding once that order has been granted.”

He added that it would then be up to their clients to pursue criminal proceedings if they so wish. 

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One Comment

  1. I’ve written 5 books about my years with elephants in Hwange, and in them have recorded some wonderful times with friends in Matobo. We actually made a point of meeting this ‘man’ some 5 years after I arrived in Zimbabwe. Thank goodness no special friendships were pursued. As we savoured the spirituality and mystery of those timeless rocky hills THIS is what was going on around us. Disgusting. Disgraceful. Just another unbelievable Zim happening that makes me sick to my stomach.

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