A SCOUT master accused of tying up scouts for his own sexual pleasure has been found guilty of fuelling a fetish.
Bachelor farmer Steven Etherington, 44, admitted telling a boy scout to strip to his boxers, “hog-tying his hands and feet” and then slapping his bottom with a wet tea towel as a punishment, Hull Crown Court heard.
It followed another incident where he staked a boy out by his arms and legs in a star shape with his legs apart at a 45 degree angle with tent pegs. He then sat astride him, in an effort to teach him how to resist tickling.
The dates and locations of the incidents have not been reported to protect the identity of the children involved.
His behaviour set alarm bells ringing when parents of the boys found out and police were called in to investigate his scouting role. His 20-year career as a boy scout leader, who helped train others, is now in ruins.
Etherington, from Wilberfoss, was described as the Peter Pan of Stamford Bridge, his barrister told the court during a four-day trial.
He denied two offences of sexual assault on boys under 13, but was found guilty after a jury returned a unanimous verdict following three hours of deliberation.
Hull Crown Court heard the separate incidents occurred when Etherington was alone with the boys and not at Scout meetings.
One happened at a remote country camp site with a boy cleaning up in preparation for a future Scout visit. The boy agreed to be staked out and taught how to resist tickling.
Crown barrister David Gordon alleged Etherington had sat astride him with his covered genitals in close proximity to the boys and it was the circumstances of the consensual tickling which the jury had to consider.
The second incident, which drew attention to the first, happened in a house after the scout had been told off for not wearing a high visibility jacket for cycling on a busy road where Etherington’s close friend had been killed.
Mr Gordon had told the jury: “This was not old-fashioned corporal punishment. Bear in mind the difference of 30 years. This is not the boy’s father. His ankles are restrained and his hands are restrained and the two are hog tied together. This was a form of bondage. This was all happening in private. We say he is attracted to boys around the age of puberty. He is not stimulated by women. He has never been married and says although he was engaged to a woman he has not been aroused.
“He is a man with a fetish. He is excited by the image of a boy being bound unable to move. He likes to be able to comfort them and be in a quasi-parental position. He is a strange person.”
His defence barrister Mark Bury had told the court there was no justification for the smacking of the boy’s bottom in those circumstance, but he would be punished for that by the judge in due course after admitting the charge of common assault as an alternative.
“It was a monumental misjudgment but it was not sexual,” said Mr Bury. “This man is not really a sexual person. Some people are not. He has never really grown up. He is the Peter Pan of Stamford Bridge.
“He is plainly a caring man. He has not got children of his own and has devoted 20 years of his life caring for others as a scout leader.
– Continued on page 3
“He is naive. He is the sort of person who does things, but does not think about putting himself at risk. He is an old-fashioned person who puts himself out for others.
“He is the sort of person who, when I was at school, was described as a confirmed bachelor. There are some people about like that. Slapping someone with a wet towel is not a sexual assault. You have to look at the circumstances.”
He said he was an honest man who had told the boy’s father exactly what had happened when he had rung him to challenge about the towel slapping incident – and repeated it to the police.
He added: “He is not going back to Scouting He was asked what would it look like if it got out. He said it would not look good.”
Mr Etherington walked free from court after waiting on Monday for a jury verdict.
Judge Simon Jack, told him he will be sentenced after a probation service report is compiled on his background in around four weeks time. He was allowed to walk free from court after signing on the National Sex Offenders’ Register.