STANDING in the middle of a group of young Scouts, Nick Thorpe appears to be a pillar of the community.
But in fact the Scout leader was hiding a sickening secret – he had abused boys in his care years earlier.
Thorpe’s shameful past came to light after one of his victims spotted this photo in The News and contacted police, fearing his abuser might strike again.
That sparked a trial during which his traumatised victims had to give evidence.
Now Thorpe, 48, faces a jail sentence after being found guilty of a string of sex offences.
Married Thorpe plied two youngsters with alcohol and sexually assaulted them at his home between 1996 and 2005 when they were both aged under 16.
But it was more than 10 years before one of the victims felt able to contact police about the abuse he suffered.
The man, now aged in his 30s, decided to act after spotting a photograph of Thorpe surrounded by young scouts in The News in January last year. The picture is on the front page today.
Thorpe, the master of a Portsmouth Scout group, has been warned he faces jail after being convicted of a string of sex offences relating to his two victims – who cannot be named for legal reasons. The 48-year-old, who has been involved with the Scouts for 27 years, had denied three counts of rape and one count of assault relating to one boy and one count of indecent assault and one of gross indecency with a child, relating to another.
But a jury found him guilty of all charges after two and a half hours of deliberations at Portsmouth Crown Court.
Addressing Thorpe, Judge Roger Hetherington said: ‘Inevitably you face a significant prison sentence but I will grant you bail so that you may sort your affairs out in the interim.’
Apart from telling his mum, the first victim had kept the abuse he suffered quiet for years. It was during an argument in 2006 or 2007 when he first spoke out to his mother.
But she said he was ashamed and did not want it to become public.
He decided to contact police after seeing Thorpe in The News amid fears he could abuse other boys.
The second set of allegations were made last April when another former Scout, who is now aged in his 20s, told a nurse Thorpe had plied him with alcohol and abused him. The two victims did not know each other.
Thorpe has had to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register.
He was bailed to appear back at Portsmouth Crown Court for sentencing in March.
The first victim of Thorpe’s to contact police told a jury of the moment he spotted the photo of his abuser in The News.
Giving evidence at Portsmouth Crown Court, the man, who is now in his 30s, said: ‘It brought everything back to the surface and made me upset again.
‘It’s taken a long time. It’s still hard for me. I was embarrassed.
‘I think now is the time because I’m worried about what happened to me.
‘It makes me worried about what could have happened in this time and if anything is happening now.’