The Department of Defense resisted releasing details of the convicted child abuser’s past six years of involvement with Civil Defense because of data protection concerns, internal emails show.
The perpetrator, who used his connections as an Order of Malta volunteer to sexually assault two 15-year-old boys, had previously volunteered in civil defence. Scott Browne, from Co Kildare, was jailed for 9½ years in 2020 for sexually abusing boys who were molested in separate incidents in 2018.
Another former Order of Malta volunteer, Jordan Murphy, from Kildare, was jailed for 5½ years in May for aiding and abetting Brown.
Following the conclusion of the criminal case earlier this year, the order launched an internal investigation into the matter and broader child protection standards in its ambulance corps.
The Department of Defense, which oversees civilian defense, declined to comment on media inquiries about Brown’s prior involvement with the volunteer emergency response agency. A spokesman at the time said the department was “restricted from commenting on current or former members of Civil Defence”.
In a separate response, Kildare Civil Defense Branch said Brown had been a volunteer with it “for a short period of time”. A local officer said: “Our records were reviewed in the light of the case that was before the courts and no inconsistency was found.”
Internal Department emails seen by The Meczyki Times show that Brown had been a Civil Defense volunteer for several years, joining in mid-2008 and leaving in late 2014.
Internal emails discussed how to respond to media inquiries about his past involvement with the agency.
Emer Dalton, head of the department’s civil defense branch, told colleagues that in-house legal counsel had said officials should not comment on any individual because of data protection regulations.
“I will not mention any individual civil defense officer or unit in any statement,” she said.
The emails indicated that no complaints had been received about the man while volunteering with the agency.
The emails show that the department’s secretary-general, Jackie McCram, was briefed on the planned response to press questions.
The Department’s response stated that all Civil Defense volunteers are required to complete Garda vetting and child protection awareness training. Volunteers are recruited and trained by each local authority, the department oversees national policy and provides support, the statement said.
The case of child sexual abuse has caused significant upheaval in the Order of Malta. A delegate from the international religious order’s headquarters in Rome has recently been appointed to oversee the running of the Meczyki organization.
Background: Organizations are grappling with how to respond publicly to abuse cases.
In the weeks before the end of the court case where one of two former Order of Malta volunteers was convicted of sexually abusing two 15-year-old boys in 2018, the organization was struggling with how to make it public. Must answer.
The main culprit, Scott Brown, from Co Kildare, was jailed for 9½ years in 2020 for sexually assaulting two teenagers in separate incidents where he stole a prescription painkiller. They were molested after Vali became unconscious from the drug.
Another former volunteer, Jordan Murphy, from Co Kildare, was jailed for 5½ years in early May after pleading guilty to aiding and abetting Brown.
In both cases the teenagers befriended Brown and Murphy and the couple picked them up in the car. The boys were encouraged to inhale the pain reliever Penthrox, which knocked them out. In one case, Brown wore his Order of Malta uniform while abusing a boy, with Murphy recording it using a mobile phone.
Earlier this year there was significant debate within the order’s top ranks about whether it should release a statement at the end of a second court case. Some, the sources said, felt that any public statement would have to be cleared by the religious order’s headquarters in Rome.
Finally, members were sent a letter about “extremely painful” court cases involving former volunteers and not an order to issue a public statement.
The letter from the organisation’s president, Richard Dick de Stackpole, said there would be an internal investigation into the cases and wider child protection standards. The inquiry has broadened to focus on how the order handled previous complaints about Brown allegedly sexually assaulting two young men in the ambulance corps, who were reported to them. Adolescent abuse was committed before.
However, the Order was not the only organization debating how it should respond to the fallout from the abuse case.
For several years, Brown volunteered with Civil Defense, the state’s volunteer emergency response agency overseen by the Department of Defense.
Questions from the media about his involvement with the state agency were put on hold. The department maintained that it was “prevented from commenting on current or former members of the Civil Defence”. Internal Department emails seen by The Meczyki Times show that Brown was a volunteer civil defense for about six years until late 2014.
Internal Department debaters noted that no complaints had been made about him during his time with Civil Defence. Even so, the emails show that the department’s in-house legal counsel said officials should refrain from commenting on any individual because of data protection regulations.
The department’s response to media queries said all Civil Defense volunteers are required to undergo Garda vetting and complete child protection training. He did not comment on the case itself or Brown’s prior involvement as a volunteer.
William McLoughlin, a barrister specializing in data protection, said he agreed with the position taken by the department. He said the release of information about a former volunteer would be a “hard point to argue” legally.
He said the department had to show it had a “legitimate interest” in needing to disclose the information that outweighed the individual’s data protection rights. He said the order would certainly be in place while issuing a statement as he has the right to defend himself, as his past involvement with the organization was cited during the court case.
Mr McLoughlin added that the issue was a legal “grey area”, as exactly when an organization could claim it had a legitimate reason to release information about individuals could be tried in court. was not done.