An Australian filmmaker who made a movie about basketball-playing Mormon missionaries has been sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of sexually abusing boys — some of whom he met as a leader in his local LDS congregation.
Darran Scott, 53, pleaded guilty to 16 charges related to the sexual abuse of 11 boys over a 25-year period, according to a report Friday by the Australian Broadcasting Co. (ABC). He will serve at least seven years in prison and will be listed on a sex-offender registry for life.
According to testimony before the County Court in Morwell, in the Australian state of Victoria, Scott started grooming his victims in the early 1990s, when he was a junior football coach in the suburbs east of Melbourne. He joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint in 2005 and reportedly lured another six boys while serving as a youth leader in his ward.
In one case, the court heard, Scott hosted two boys at his house in Archies Creek, about 80 miles southeast of Melbourne. He encouraged the boys to expose themselves and shoot pellet guns at each other’s genitals. Scott later tried to cajole a witness to lie to police about the incident.
Judge John Smallwood, in handing down the sentence, said Scott had “ruined lives” and that he showed no remorse “other than self-pity.”
“It’s a long way from the remorse anticipated from a man who has done the damage that you have,” Smallwood told Scott.
According to the ABC, Smallwood dismissed Scott’s assertion to a psychologist that he didn’t know what he was doing when he abused the boys. “You knew what you were doing was not only wrong in the individual sense but very, very wrong in a social sense,” Smallwood told Scott.
When Scott was arrested in August 2016, he was initially charged with some 50 cases of abusing boys. That arrest prevented Scott from traveling to Park City, Utah, for the world premiere of his movie “Spirit of the Game,” which opened the inaugural Park City International Film Festival, an event showcasing family-friendly movies.
“Spirit of the Game” told the true story of the Mormon Yankees, LDS missionaries in Australia in the 1950s who connected with the locals through basketball, and helped prepare Australia’s national team for the 1956 Summer Olympics. The movie, which co-starred Kevin Sorbo of “Hercules” fame, had a limited theatrical run last fall.