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Taskforce reveals extent of brutal abuse at Australia naval base

Published on Jun 18, 2014 1:42 PM

SYDNEY (AFP) - Hundreds of teenage boys suffered brutal physical and sexual abuse at an Australian naval base, a taskforce said on Wednesday, as it slammed the Defence Force for failing to protect them.

The Defence Abuse Response Taskforce said the shocking and systemic treatment at HMAS Leeuwin between 1960 and 1984 was "much more serious and widespread" than previously acknowledged.

"The pattern of abuse at HMAS Leeuwin was such that Defence knew or ought to have known that abuse was occurring, yet failed to take appropriate action to stop it," said the taskforce head, retired judge Len Roberts-Smith.

A national inquiry into abuse in the Australian military was set up by the government in 2012 after the service was rocked by claims of rape and sexual assault, a culture of cover-ups and a failure to punish perpetrators.

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