Ex Scout master's victims urged to come forward

A former scout leader accused of indecently assaulting boys over a thirty-year period may have more alleged victims and police are urging them to come forward.

Since Barry Were, 61, was initially charged with 11 counts of indecent assault on Friday last week, investigators have spoken to another three alleged victims, acting Detective Inspector Mark Greene, said yesterday.

"These matters are currently before the courts so we don't want to interfere with the integrity of the case, but we believe there may be more victims we've yet to identify," Greene said.

"The alleged offending took place between the early 1980s and 2012. The alleged offender was a district scout leader between 1976 and 1983 and has been a youth search and rescue co-ordinator holding positions of influence over teenagers aged 14-18 years."

The revelations have cast a cloud over Scouts NZ, although spokesman Mark Long said none of their members were believed to be involved at this stage.

It follows separate allegations against former bus driver and scout master Godfrey Ball, also known as Geoffrey Ball, in the Wairarapa.

He appeared in Masterton District Court last month over offences against three boys alleged to have been carried out between 1964 and 1985 in Wellington. They were then aged between 7 and 16.

Ball appeared in court in June on 12 representative charges including indecent assault, sodomy and doing indecent acts, and was granted bail after initially being remanded in custody.

Ball was found dead in his Masterton home this month and his death has been referred to the coroner.

Long said they were "extremely disappointed" that one of their members had been accused of these acts. "We are working with the local people that did know him," he said.

"At this stage there's no indication that any of the Scout members of the time were involved in the activity Mr Were was involved with.

"We are on alert to anyone that does come forward to provide immediate counselling and support to them."

Scouts had a system of vetting people wanting to join as leaders and it involved a process of police vetting and character references. Long said it was as safe as possible but "I suppose if you try hard enough you can beat anything".

Vetting of police records was in place while Were was involved in the Scouts yet the process was not as thorough as today.

Police want to hear from anyone who may have been subject to inappropriate advances over the 30-year period in question or from parents whose children may have exhibited behaviours of concern.

"Both [Scouts and youth search and rescue] are aware of the allegations and are co-operating fully with our investigations," Greene said.

"Police are also continuing to work with them to improve processes around vetting of personnel and early identification of potential victims to prevent similar incidents from occurring.

"Incidents such as this are very disappointing, when reflecting on the good these organisations do for our communities and youth, and the impact such revelations may have. The most important thing remains, however, for us to identify any other potential victims and get them the support and care that they may need."

Anyone who believes they may have been subjected to inappropriate behaviour from the alleged offender is asked to contact Detective Andrew Hawke of the Hamilton CIB on 07 858 6200.

Clarification: Former scout leader Barry Were is facing 11 charges of indecent assault allegedly committed between the early 1980s and 2012 when he was involved in Youth Search and Rescue as a co-ordinator. In the August 22 issue of the Waikato Times Were was incorrectly described as "a man who was a scout leader for decades". In fact he was a scout leader between 1976 and 1983.

Waikato Times