Scouts leader convicted of branding three children; Sentenced to community service

People gathered around a campfire
People gathered around a campfire Photo: 4masik/DepositPhotos

The court in 's-Hertogenbosch sentenced a 24-year-old scout leader from Goes to 180 hours of community service on appeal for branding three children during a summer camp in Belgium in 2017. The court convicted the man of aggravated assault on one child, and assault on the other two children.

The incident happened during a summer camp in August 2017. Mark B. was the scout leader of a group to which the three victims belonged. During a hazing ritual, new members are "branded" with an ink stamp. But in this case, B. had used the stamp to poke at the camp fire before the ritual, the court said in its ruling. When he put the stamp on the children's backs, it was still hot and caused burns on their bodies.

The Zeeland-West-Brabant court previously acquitted B., ruling that there was no evidence that the man intentionally injured the children. But the appeals court disagrees, ruling that B. acted intentionally. According to the appeals court, B. considerably crossed the line that can be imposed on hazing rituals.

"Through his actions, the man seriously infringed the physical integrity of the victims", the court said in its ruling. "In addition, he violated the trust the parents of the children had placed in him. They thought they could leave their children in good faith with an organization where they were safe."

In addition to the community service, the court also ordered B. to pay just over 700 euros in compensation to one of the victims.