Defence Abuse Response Taskforce Chair Describes Rape of 207 Male Teenagers Aboard Australian Naval Vessel as Horrific

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By Vittorio Hernandez | June 19, 2014 9:35 AM EST

The rape of 207 male teenage recruits at the Australian naval vessel HMAS Leeuwin from 1960 to 1984 is within the scope of the current Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The confirmation came from Len Roberts-Smith, chair of the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce.


Indian Navy sailors march as they take part in ceremonial parade during Republic Day celebrations at the southern Naval Command in Kochi (Reuters) .

The 207 were junior recruits in the ages between 15 and 17. They were scrubbed every day using sandsoap until their skins bled, held down while shoe polish was applied on their genitals and hard, elongated objects such as a mop handle was inserted inside their rectum, News.com.au reports.

Roberts-Smith, a former judge of the Western Australia Supreme Court, describe the sexual assault on the teenage males as horrific. The physical and mental pain it caused them destroyed these youths. Some became alcoholic, others took drugs and most suffered from mental and psychological issues manifested in constant state of anger.

The abuse was committed by other junior recruits and ship staff.

One of the victims, now 61, said he wanted to kill the two men who raped him on the same night in the naval vessel.

"I've lived with that for 46 years. I still live with it. I have terror every day. I can't get it out of my mind. I hate nights. I can't sleep," shared Graeme Pillay.

A report on the Leeuwin abuses said the pattern was so strong that the Defence knew what happened but did not stop it. Ten per cent of the complaints received by the taskforce happened at the naval vessel.

Defence Force chief General David Hurley and Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Ray Griggs agreed that the incidents should not have happened. While that abusive environment no longer exists in the force now, the two top-ranking officials said the report would help them to continue to work for change in the defense culture.

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Indian Navy sailors march as they take part in ceremonial parade during Republic Day celebrations at the southern Naval Command in Kochi (Reuters) .
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