Bid to suppress mention of scouts abandoned

Scouting New Zealand today abandoned its bid to have references to the scouts permanently suppressed after a former Hokitika scout leader was jailed on Friday for numerous sex charges.

Wayne Alexander Noble was sent to jail for five years for sexual grooming, sexual connection with a young person under-16, sexual exploitation, and making an objectionable publication.

Both victims were Venturer Scouts in his care.

Noble was also the Buller-West Coast Scouts zone leader. The Hokitika scout group has since gone into recess.

Scouting NZ chief executive Josuha Tabor this morning initially refused to comment on the sentencing as he was working with the Crown solicitor to have the organisation's name suppressed.

He later said that after discussions with the Crown, they would not be taking the matter further. He would not comment when the Greymouth Star asked why they wanted their name suppressed.

Judge Charles Blackie lifted all suppressions at Noble's sentencing hearing on Friday in the Greymouth District Court.
Noble's association with Scouting NZ had been suppressed, but that lapsed last year and no further application was made in court on Friday.

Later today, responding to questions from the Greymouth Star, Mr Tabor said Scouting NZ took child protection "incredibly seriously". "Generally speaking, what Wayne did was a betrayal of the organisation and the young people he was involved in."
Mr Tabor said processes had been put in place to protect both the adults and the young people involved, including that scout leaders must not be involved with the young people outside of the organisation, and that during activities at least two adults should be around at all times.

"We do our best with child protection," he said.

Mr Tabor said he would be notifying as many as 50,000 parents, New Zealand wide about Noble's case.
"We want to be honest and transparent."

Crown prosecutor Sean Mallett said this morning he was not aware that Scouting NZ was seeking anonymity. The whole idea of suppression orders being lifted in the court on Friday was to clear the reputations of other scout leaders in Hokitika.

During the sentencing, Judge Charles Blackie said Noble had betrayed not just the complainants but the community and the scouting organisation.

"What he did to the complainants was appalling, but there have been much wider consequences with scouts and the Fire Service."

Noble was also a volunteer firefighter in Hokitika.

Noble had earlier pleaded guilty after a sentence indication hearing.

Judge Blackie noted on Friday that the maximum sentences for Noble's offending varied between seven years' jail for sexual grooming, to 14 years' jail for exploitation.

- by Jan Logie

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