Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Scout leader pleads guilty to abusing child

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An award-winning Scouts Canada leader is facing a lengthy prison sentence after pleading guilty to numerous sex-related charges.

Stuart Garrett Young, 40, admitted Wednesday to eight offences including sexual assault, voyeurism and making and posessing child pornography. He will be sentenced on April 15.

Winnipeg police arrested Young last summer following a lengthy investigation.

Young led a group of girls and boys aged 14 to 17 in a program known as Venturer Scouts, which promotes outdoor activities and community service. The alleged sexual abuse of one young boy went on from May 2009 to May 2011, said police.

"This would have been... a very brave and courageous thing to do for this victim to come forward," Winnipeg Police Service spokeswoman Const. Natalie Aitken said at the time. Aitken said the case highlights how a person in a "position of trust" can take advantage of children.

"This individual would have been a mentor to children," she said.

John Petitti, Scouts Canada spokesman, told the Free Press Young had been a member of the organization since 1997 and a group leader since 2002. Young was recognized with a medal of merit for "especially good service," according to a 2006 Scouts Canada publication.

He was immediately suspended and Petitti said there was a meeting of the youth and parents of the group, where counselling was offered.

"It's a situation that of course we find very, very troubling," said Petitti. He said later: "Our first duty is to ensure the safety of our youth and the peace of mind of parents."

The organization did not identify which Scouts group Young worked with, but a source told the Free Press Young rented space in a facility in the city's Southdale area.

Petitti said Young had passed a series of police record checks, including one as recently as October 2009.

"Given our focus on youth, on youth safety, on youth training, on cultivating leadership, nothing could possibly be worse than a situation like this," said Petitti.

Police told the Free Press the sexual abuse happened "outside of scheduled hours."


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