A FORMER scout leader’s sexual abuse of a 13 year-old boy in his caravan during a scout camp in the 1990s bizarrely came to light after his victim tried to blackmail him.
Christopher Johnson, whose victim had tracked him down after seeing his profile on Facebook, was so indignant he went to the police to report it.
But when the blackmailer was arrested, he admitted what he had done – and revealed behind his demand was the abuse he had suffered as a teenage scout at Johnson’s hands.
As a result Johnson, who had been the leader of a Scout group in the Kenilworth area at the time, was himself arrested.
He pleaded not guilty to three charges of indecently assaulting the boy in the 1990s – but after almost six hours a jury at Warwick Crown Court convicted him of all three charges.
The 43 year-old, who lived in Coventry at the time, but now of Clough Road, Halewood, Liverpool, was jailed for four years and ordered to register as a sex offender for life.
Judge Stephen Eyre QC said he would also be barred from ever working with children, whether on a paid or unpaid basis.
Prosecutor Michael Williams said in the 1990s Johnson was the leader of a Scout group of which the boy was a member – but his contact with the 13-year-old ‘went far beyond the ordinary Scout leader role.’
It began with hugs and the occasional ‘platonic’ kiss, and at the time it did not make the boy feel uncomfortable.
But that was just part of Johnson’s grooming process, and after a time he began to talk to the boy about girls and sexual matters, and showed him heterosexual pornographic films.
Johnson was still living with his parents at the time and, believing they would be out, he took the boy back to the house and played a porn video on the television in his bedroom.
He then started to kiss him and touched him sexually despite the boy’s objection.
Johnson’s parents then returned unexpectedly, and he rushed downstairs to try to head them off – but they came upstairs and noticed the video still playing through the open bedroom door.
Mr Williams said the most serious incident happened during a Scout Camp at Coombe Abbey Country Park near Coventry, where the scouts shared tents, but Johnson slept in his caravan.
He invited his victim and another scout to sleep in the caravan; but they were on the floor, and the other boy returned to his tent, at which point Johnson indecently assaulted the boy.
Mr Williams said Johnson’s victim kept quiet about it for many years until he finally confided in his girlfriend.
Then in 2015, instead of contacting the police, he tracked the defendant down through Facebook and sent a message asking for £25,000 for his silence.
There was no response, so the young man sent a letter to him at his parents’ address – and they opened it. They told their son who contacted police, and the victim was arrested,
“He told the police the reason he had asked for money was because he had been the victim of sexual abuse at the hands of the defendant,” added Mr Williams.
But when arrested, Johnson claimed he had no idea what it was all about and denied committing any sexual offences.
He agreed he had left the scouts in the late 1990s, but denied a suggestion he had cut himself off from the organisation because he was worried he might ‘give in to temptation again.’
After the jury returned its verdicts, Johnson’s barrister Jennifer Josephs observed: “These are incidents that took place a long time ago and might never have been known, but for the unusual factor of this case.
“The defendant is a very different person to the young man he was at the time. He moved away, and took himself away from the scouts. He’s become a hard-working finance manager, and will lose his job and possibly his home.”
Jailing Johnson, Judge Eyre told him: “I accept you were genuinely committed to scouting and did a considerable amount of good, and that you were unsure of your sexuality at that time.
“But your actions were a betrayal of the trust placed in you by the scouting movement.
“Your actions have had a real and lasting impact on him. They have affected his emotional life and his self-confidence.
“He has rightly been punished for his attempts to blackmail you, but it was your actions 20 or so years ago which put in trail the consequences which led to his imprisonment.”