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Former scout leader and “prolific paedophile” sentenced to prison
Coleman Legal LLP
May 02, 2024
Jim Harmon, a former scout leader, was sentenced to six years and eight months for sexually assaulting five boys in Clare and Limerick during the 1970s and 1980s.

Former scout leader receives prison sentence for child abuse

This week at Ennis Circuit Court, Judge Francis Comerford imposed a six-year and eight-month prison sentence on a former scout leader convicted of sexually assaulting five young boys. Jim Harmon (scout leader) performed the assaults between the mid-seventies and early eighties while working with the scouts in Clare and Limerick.

Harmon, now in his 80s, was between 33 and 38 years old when the attacks occurred. Handing down a 16-month prison term for each victim, Judge Comerford acknowledged the significant delay in achieving justice. The victims, now all men in their 50s, were as young as seven years old when Harmon abused them.

One victim highlighted that there were nearly 250 years of collective suffering between the victims as a result of Harmon’s “evil”. He spoke about how they had their innocence stolen “by the deviant nature of a predator” and questioned whether there might still be more victims.

Another victim described Harmon as a “prolific paedophile who exploited his position of power to molest helpless children, showing no regard for the harm he caused. Despite one of the victims reporting the abuse to the scouts in 1981, the Gardai were not notified, and Harmon was merely removed from his senior position in the organisation.

Three further complaints were between 1996 and 2016, but none were prosecuted. Only when a fifth complaint was made through a helpline for abuse victims in the scouts was a review ordered.

Over 80 witnesses contributed to the investigation, leading to Harmon’s guilty plea (the scout leader). State Counsel Lorcan Connolly noted that, in the 70s, Harmon was a respected and trusted figure in the community, often allowed to take boys on overnight trips.

Victim Ruairi Hickey, the only victim who waived his right to anonymity, described feeling powerless as he anticipated Harmon’s impending assault during a chess game on a scouting trip when he was around nine or ten years old. Another victim recalled Harmon telling the boys not to wear underwear under their pyjamas.

Harmon has been estranged from his family since receiving a suspended sentence for a similar offence in 2017. His lawyer, Donal Cronin, added that Harmon was also an abuse victim and deeply regretted his actions. One victim expressed relief following the sentencing, as Harmon had finally been held accountable for his actions, saying, “I wanted him to hear the cell door close behind him.”

If you’ve been affected by similar abuse, contact our sexual abuse solicitors for confidential support—our free helpline 1800-844-104 or email [email protected].

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Clodagh Magennis

Clodagh Magennis

Head of Client Services

F: 1800-844-104
E: [email protected]

At Coleman Legal, excellence in customer care is paramount. We aim to meet both prospective and existing clients’ needs professionally and in a friendly manner with a clear objective of giving quality legal advice and reaching a positive outcome.

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