Rape, dislocations, concussions some of the abuse wrought on boy naval recruits

Story highlights

  • Investigators heard 238 complaints of heavy abuse at HMAS Leeuwin training school
  • Victims endured naked beatings, rape with mop handle, genital abuse
  • Beatings ended in broken bones, smashed teeth, cut faces, concussions
  • Most of the abuse was in the 1960s and '70s; the training program shut down in 1984
Rape by mop handle, smashed teeth, broken bones, lacerated faces, concussions and dislocations. That's a short list of sexual exploitation and physical maltreatment that teen boys suffered at a naval training school in Australia.
The abuse at the HMAS Leeuwin naval base occurred mainly in the 1960s and '70s, according to a report released by a defense department task force investigating abuse in the country's armed forces. The victims, mostly aged 15-17, were junior recruits at the school.
They were mostly abused by higher-ranking junior recruits, who were not reprimanded for their behavior, but staff also committed much of the brutality, the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce said.
Investigators heard 238 complaints of abuse, which detailed instances of forced sodomy, naked beatings and brutal rituals including genital abuse, and verbal and physical intimidation.
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How did Salvation Army view sex charges? 01:40
The nightmarish mistreatment scarred young men for life, many of whom sought solace in drugs and alcohol or, in later years, suffered breakdowns of their careers and relationships.
The youth training program at HMAS Leeuwin ended in 1984.