More horrific stories about abuse in Salvation Army children’s homes are unfolding at a royal commission hearing in Sydney.
A boy who told a Salvation Army officer he had been sexually abused by another boy was later raped by the officer, an inquiry has been told.
A man, identified as ES, said he ran away several times from a Salvation Army Training Farm at Riverview in Queensland when he was a teenager but was always brought back, either by the farm manager, Captain Victor Bennett or police.
Mr Bennett who has since died, is one of five officers against whom the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has heard numerous allegations.
The commission is holding a public hearing in Sydney into what happened at four homes run by the Salvos in NSW and Queensland in the 60s and 70s.
ES said on Wednesday he was locked in a cage on the veranda at Riverview – some times for weeks.
There was no bed or blankets and a bucket was used as a toilet in the cage, which some boys called a ‘holding cell’ or ‘lock-in’.
He said after time in the cage he was sodomised by Cpt Bennett, to whom he had reported being molested by an older boy.
ES had been placed in an orphanage in NSW when he was four. At age 11 he was moved to St Vincent’s Boys Home at Westmead, Sydney where he was sexually abused by a Marist brother.
He ended up at Riverview in Queensland where: “I felt Captain Bennett hated me from the start.”
He told of punishments like being made to crawl around naked holding up a dead chook and naked boys being made to run around a maypole.
At Wednesday’s hearing several witness statements were read.
A man identified as GK wrote of the profound hate and anger he felt and could not shake off from the time spent at Riverview.
He told of psychological, sexual and physical abuse when he was 12.
“I feel sorry for the people who have tried to help me at times and have been hurt by my hate against society”.
He had been told by a Salvation officer his parents did not want him and later found out letters sent to him by his parents and brothers were kept from him.
He applied to get the letters, held by the Queensland Children’s Department, under Freedom of Information.
In 2006 he told the Salvos: “We will be getting letters from the dead. God help me when I get them…”
Another man FP said residents at Riverview lived in constant fear. They were beaten for talking or laughing.
He was asked by Simeon Beckett, counsel representing the commission, if he had told state welfare officers who regularly visited the farm of floggings and sexual abuse by officers and older boys.
FP said he had not because of “fear of what was going to happen to you if you opened your mouth”.
Both FP and another witness EY told of being sexually assaulted by older boys. EY ran away when he was 16. Police picked him up four months later sent him back and he was severely flogged with a razor strap.
Earlier on Wednesday Wally McLeod, who was a resident at Indooroopilly Boys Home and Riverview Training Farm from 1960 to 1966, said he saw Victor Bennett grab children as young as four and punch them.
The commission, in this and future hearings, will examine in detail if the Salvation Army dismissed and/or transferred officers about whom there were complaints.