MOSCOW, May 5 (RIA Novosti) – Australian investigators looking into abuse in the military have revealed that 227 sailors aged 16 or younger were allegedly raped or brutalized in the 1980s at the HMAS Leeuwin navy training base, Agence France-Presse reported Monday.
"Complaints assessed to date suggest that there was a failure by Defense to address the culture of violence and bullying that existed at HMAS Leeuwin for many years of its operation," according to a report of the Australian Defense Abuse Response Taskforce cited by AFP.
Investigators received 2,400 abuse claims from officers, but the head of the inquiry insists the cases of those who served at HMAS Leeuwin in the 1980s call for a separate report to be presented to Australian parliament.
Claims of 70 young cadets who served at the prestigious Australian Defense Force Academy in Canberra and were subjected to sexual and other forms of abuse would be reported separately, too.
According to former judge Len Roberts-Smith, the head of the taskforce investigating the matter, the stories of victims are so terrifying that they are still afraid to go public.
"We are getting a lot of people who don't want to go public and are very apprehensive about any suggestion their identity might be disclosed to Defense or anyone else," Roberts-Smith was quoted as saying.
Investigations into abuse in the Australian army were launched after the so-called Skype scandal in 2011, when a sex video of a young recruit was streamed online. The incident triggered a string of revelations of sexual abuse and other forms of brutality in the military.
The Australian government was forced to make a parliamentary apology to victims, whose suffering had been covered up for years. In 2012, the Defense Abuse Response Taskforce was established to hear hundreds of complaints and claims of abuse that occurred in Australian army beginning in the 1950s to the present.