Cadets air damning details of sex abuse

By Kathy Marks

The Australian Government has started at least six investigations into military culture and past claims of abuse. Photo / Getty Images
The Australian Government has started at least six investigations into military culture and past claims of abuse. Photo / Getty Images

The Australian Defence Force is once again under siege, following allegations by three former service personnel that they suffered violence and sexual abuse and then had their complaints hushed up.

The claims, which were to be aired by the ABC investigative TV programme Four Corners late last night, are among scores of alleged incidents that have come to light since a female cadet at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) complained in April that she was filmed via Skype having sex with a fellow cadet.

After that scandal, the Government started at least six investigations into military culture and past claims of abuse.

Now three alleged victims - including two former cadets at the academy, which prides itself on training future leaders of the armed forces - have told Four Corners that their complaints were covered up.

One of the former cadets, identified only as "John", said that after trying to help a fellow soldier who was being beaten up by senior cadets, he had bleach thrown in his eyes.

He was then trapped in his room in Canberra by half a dozen trainee officers, who held him down and assaulted him anally with an object.

A medical officer warned him not to report the attack, which took place in 1989, and he was later told he had no future in the force.

John, who subsequently tried to commit suicide, believes some of his assailants are now senior officers.

Internal documents obtained by Four Corners suggest the Defence Department misled the Government about his case.

Another interviewee, who was allegedly gang-raped at a navy base in Victoria in 1996, says she was instructed by military police to state on tape that the sex had been consensual.

"Claire", then a 17-year-old trainee cook, was told that unless she complied, her career would be over.

"They actually turned off the initial three tapes, discarded those and made me start the interview again," says Claire, who has never received an apology from the navy despite her complaints being upheld by the Commonwealth Ombudsman in 2004.

In the third incident, a former ADFA cadet claims fellow trainees held him down and applied an industrial-strength vacuum cleaner to his genitals in 1990.

According to his lawyer, Brian Briggs, publicity about the recent Skype scandal has triggered psychotic episodes that have led to him being hospitalised.

- NZ Herald

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