Defence may have been infiltrated

PAEDOPHILES are suspected to have joined the Defence Force to target young boys, according to a damning confidential report into sexual assault in the military.

The report, commissioned by Defence Minister Stephen Smith last year in the wake of the Skype scandal, finds a culture of abuse stretching back to the 1950s with more than 770 potential cases.

Referring to the HMAS Leeuwin base in Fremantle, it said recruits had a choice — join in the abuse, or be abused.

The report draws parallels with paedophiles ingratiating themselves into churches or orphanages to exploit young people.

“There is no reason to think that such people would not have targeted relevant parts of the ADF [Australian Defence Force],” the report says.

It also warns that offenders could still be in the military.

The full 24 page executive summary of the report by law firm DLA Piper was released to ABC TV’s 7.30 program last night under freedom of information laws.

Mr Smith had released a heavily censored version of the report in March that told of a culture of abuse over 60 years.

He denied last night he was covering up the extent of abuse, saying “untested allegations” had to be properly assessed.

The report says problems were persistently ignored by the defence brass, with the military failing to protect recruits as young as 15 and leaving offenders to act with impunity.

“It is certain that many boys were subjected to serious sexual and physical assault and other serious abuse while they were in the ADF from the 1950s through to the 1970s — and possibly into the 1980s.” Abuse of older recruits is said to have occurred “at least into the 21st century”.

Mr Smith said he would not rule out a royal commission.

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