Counsel assisting the royal commission Sophie David SC addresses the public hearing in Rockhampton. Photograph: Royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse.
A former resident of an infamous central Queensland orphanage has said she tried to blow the whistle on sexual abuse she suffered while in care but was ignored by authorities.
The royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse sitting in Rockhampton has heard that sadistic punishments and sexual abuse were rife at St Joseph’s Neerkol orphanage, which was run by the Sisters of Mercy from 1885 and 1978.
A former resident, Diane Carpenter, 62, told the second day of a public hearing that while at Neerkol in Rockhampton she was sexually abused by a priest called Michael Hayes and by a member of a foster family who took her in during holidays.
Carpenter said she was frequently physically assaulted and abused by the Sisters of Mercy, and detailed one occasion when she was locked in a hot room and forced to drink her own urine to stay hydrated.
She told the inquiry she reported the sexual assaults to a state children’s department inspector in Rockhampton, and later to two separate police officers, but no action was taken.
Carpenter, who held back tears during her evidence, said that after meeting the inspector she was beaten by nuns on her return to Neerkol.
She said a police sergeant with whom she first confided the abuse by Hayes shut down the conversation. Another police officer whom she approached in Mackay with the allegations when she was 17 told her to “go to the courthouse”.
“This experience further eroded my trust in police and authorities,” she said. “I felt as though no one in a position of trust would help or support me.”
Another former Neerkol resident told the inquiry he was repeatedly sexually abused by Neerkol groundsman Kevin Baker, a former orphanage resident who had been given “free run of the place”.
In 1998 Baker was committed to trial on 69 charges relating to 12 alleged victims, but was never convicted of any offence and continues to maintain his innocence.
The inquiry witness, known as AYN, also said the nuns beat him and other boys on the legs and genitals with rulers and told them their penis was “the devil”.
Thirteen former residents are due to detail their experience at the Rockhampton public hearing, which is expected to conclude next week.