“Royal Commission continues into alleged abuse at Neerkol orphanage: & related articles & VIDEO

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The Courier-Mail (Australia)

April 17, 2015 12:00AM (16 April in Canada)

MICHAEL MADIGAN
The Courier-Mail

AN ALLEGED pedophile priest told his victim he would throw the boy off a bridge in central Queensland if he revealed he was being raped.

The royal commission into child sexual abuse, which winds up a week of testimony in Rockhampton today, heard that Father John Anderson routinely sodomised David Owen, now 76, when Mr Owen was a boy at the Neerkol orphanage outside Rockhampton in the 1940s and ’50s.

The attacks, so severe that the boy required nappies to stop bleeding, were not stopped even when a senior Queensland public servant who inspected orphanages was told of them, Mr Owen said.

Mr Owen told the inquiry that he was born after his then-12-year-old mother was raped by a policeman in a north Queensland mining town and he was sent to Neerkol as a five-month-old just before World War II.

He said Father Anderson started sexually molesting him as a nine-year-old and the attacks graduated to routine acts of sodomy.

“On one occasion I was held over the side of a bridge by Father Anderson and told he would drop me into the fires of Hell if I didn’t do what he required me to do,” Mr Owen told the hearing.

“On quite a number of ­occasions when I was sent to the presbytery and refused to obey him, he would tell me that he was going to take me out and drop me into the fires of Hell.

“After the incident on the bridge, I understood what this meant. I would succumb in fear and let him have his way with me.”

Witness AYA, whose identity is being protected, also told the inquiry she was sexually abused by Father Reginald Durham on her 11th birthday.

“Durham would often ask the girls to visit him,” AYA said.

“He would entice you to his dining room with a display of food.”

AYA said that, on her 11th birthday, ­Father Durham invited her into the dining room and told her he would give her a birthday present.

“When we were in the room, he grabbed me and … stuck his tongue down my throat.

“I was so young that I didn’t know what was happening.”

Rockhampton’s retired Bishop Brian Heenan is ­expected to give evidence before the commission winds up for the week today.

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Queensland Government official covered up abuse at Neerkol Orphanage: inquiry

Brisbane Times Queensland
April 16, 2015 – 4:05PM

Nuns were ‘savage and brutal’

The physical and sexual abuse of children at the Neerkol Orphanage near Rockhampton “came out of nowhere” and left lifelong scars. Nine News

Warning: This article contains content that may distress some readers.

A Queensland government official who oversaw children’s institutions in the 1950s helped cover up brutal sexual abuse, a national inquiry has heard.

A former resident of the Neerkol Orphanage near Rockhampton has told a royal commission an inspector from the state children’s department told him to keep quiet about repeated sexual abuse inflicted upon him by a priest.
David Owen holds a photo of himself from the orphanage days.

David Owen holds a photo of himself from the orphanage days.

David Owen holds a photo of himself from the orphanage days. Photo: Peter Stroop

David Owen, 76, told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse on Thursday he was abused so badly by priest Fr John Anderson as a nine-year-old altar boy at Neerkol, he often bled from his backside.

Mr Owen said when he was a teenager he told a state children’s department inspector called Mr Paterson of the abuse during a visit by Mr Paterson to Neerkol.

“He said that he knew Fr Anderson was abusing me, but I wasn’t to tell anyone, and that if I was caught bleeding I was to say that it was piles,” Mr Owen said.

“Mr Paterson and Fr Anderson were friends, he would have dinner at the presbytery with Fr Anderson.

“It just made me feel terrible, you know, to think that he was a man in a position to be an inspector, and was doing nothing about the abuse.”

The inquiry is into its third day of a public hearing investigating the experiences of children at Neerkol and the responses of the church and state government.

In often distressing testimony, Mr Owen said children at the orphanage were flogged with whips, belts and lantana branches by nuns.

Other punishments included being locked under floorboards for hours and being made to urinate in a corner, mop up the liquid with their shirt and wear the garment for a week, Mr Owen said.

The inquiry continues.

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Child sex abuse inquiry: Former Neerkol resident ‘received a bullet in the mail’ after reporting child abuse at orphanage

ABC News (Australia)

16 April 2015

Photo: Former Neerkol resident David Owen was an alter boy for a priest who regularly abused him. (William Rollo)

A man who reported sexual abuse at St Joseph’s Neerkol Orphanage received death threats after talking to police, including a bullet in his mailbox, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has heard.

The commission, entering its third day of public hearings, is taking evidence from former residents of the orphanage in Rockhampton.

David Owen, 76, said he became a resident of the orphanage at five months of age.

He told the commission he was an altar boy for Father John Anderson, who sodomised him for years.

“One occasion I was held over the side of a bridge by Father Anderson and told he would drop me into the fires of hell if I didn’t do what he required me to do,” Mr Owen said.

He recalled a nun taking him to see Father Anderson and claimed the nun knew he would be sexually abused.

Mr Owen told the hearing if he refused to see Father Anderson, the nun would beat him.

I received a bullet in my mailbox. It may have been the same day as I received the [threatening phone] call.

Former orphanage resident David Owen

He said he reported the abuse but was bashed by the nuns, who yelled: “You filthy animal, how dare you speak about a priest like that”.

Mr Owen said the nuns forced boxing matches between boys and girls at Neerkol.

In the 1990s, Mr Owen said he reported the abuse to the police and received death threats by an anonymous caller shortly afterwards.

“I also received a bullet in my mailbox,” he said.

“It may have been the same day as I received the call.”

Earlier, a witness known as AYA said she was sexually assaulted by one of the priests.

“On my 12th birthday I was sexually abused by Father Reg Durham at Neerkol,” she said.

“Durham would often ask the girls to visit him.

“He would entice you to his room with a display of food that we didn’t have such as chicken.”

AYA also told the inquiry she would often be on her hands and knees scrubbing floors with a chemical.

“I do not know what the chemical was,” she said.

“It burnt my hands and made them white in colour.

Photo: St Joseph’s Neerkol Orphanage in Rockhampton in central Queensland, where hundreds of children were allegedly abused. (ABC TV News – file image)

“I would like to have seen all the victims from Neerkol get justice from the people that abused them but unfortunately most of them have passed away.”

Another witness known as AYD told the commission a priest applied ointment to an injury and then abused him.

“He was rubbing me in between my legs, penis and testicles for about 15 minutes,” AYD said in a statement.

“Throughout I felt something warm going up and down my arm.

“Eventually he told me that I could roll over.

“When I rolled over he was standing in front of me with no clothes on and he had a fully erect penis.

“When I saw this, I realised what I had felt rubbing along my arm was his penis.”

It is alleged that hundreds of children were physically and sexually abused at Neerkol from the 1940s to 1970s.

Harrowing tales of sexual and physical abuse have already been heard from former residents, including one woman raped when she was 14 by a worker at the orphanage in 1965, and another sexually abused by a priest and forced to drink her own urine to stay hydrated.

‘I could not comprehend what he was telling me, it was appalling’

Professor Bruce Grundy, a journalism professor at the University of Queensland, broke the Neerkol story.

He told 612 ABC Brisbane that the cases of barbaric behaviour were not confined to one person.

“Neerkol of course was an absolute hell hole and the way they treated children was just beyond description,” he said.

“Not all the children, I have to say, but a lot of them.”

Professor Grundy said he hoped the royal commission pursued complaints made to authorities.

“I will be very interested to see how far they will pursue,” he said.

“Some of those children did make complaints.”

Mr Grundy said the first contact he had with a victim was in Newcastle, in New South Wales.

“I could not comprehend what he was telling me as it was so appalling,” he said.

“I just wanted to be able to question him to figure it out if it could possibly be.

“This man’s name then became synonymous with a form of punishment at Neerkol which involved one of the workmen delivering punishment with a stockwhip.

“That kind of barbaric behaviour was not just confined to this particular person.

“Others have told me the stories of the beatings that they have received.”

Mr Grundy believed Neerkol was not the only institution in Queensland where abuse occurred.

“I just do not get it. These are people who are working in the name of God and these children are being brutalised,” he said.

“A lot of people, it seems to me, have questions to answer about what went on in Neerkol apart from the nuns.”

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Orphan beaten after trying to report sex abuse by priest, royal commission hears

The Guardian (Australia)

Wednesday 15 April 2015

Diane Carpenter tells Rockhampton hearing she was forced to drink her own urine and that police and Queensland authorities ignored her sex abuse claims

Counsel assisting the royal commission Sophie David SC addresses the public hearing in Rockhampton.

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.

3 Responses to “Royal Commission continues into alleged abuse at Neerkol orphanage: & related articles & VIDEO

  1. Sylvia says:

    Terrible terrible accounts of abuse at the Neerkol orphanage in Queensland coming from the Australian Royal Commission.

    Heartbreaking. Horrific.

    I think I read that this above were the last witnesses for the week? I just tried to check on the Royal Commission website when hearings resume but can’t find the info easily. I will look again later. Here is the link to the website so that those of you who are interested you can browse around yourself.

  2. Grant says:

    Thanks for posting this. But is was much worse for the Catholic Church today when a retired Bishop gave evidence that his actions probably put more children at risk. He went on to testify he wrote a false pastoral letter stating that allegations against the Sisters of Mercy were scurrilous. When questioned further he admitted he wrote this to attempt to protect the Catholic Church.

    • Sylvia says:

      Thank you Grant. I am now rounding up the media coverage and will soon have it posted.

      I am so sorry I missed the live-stream – for some reason I got the impression that there were no hearings Friday. Anyway, unfortunately I missed it!

      I will carry on and get the coverage of this particular disaster posted.

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