Report highlights abuse in military

Culture of abuse … a new report reveals 770 potential cases stretching back to the 1950s.PAEDOPHILES are suspected to have joined the Defence Force to target young boys, a damning confidential report into sexual assault in the military says.

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

“The choice was to join in bashing and assaults on other young boys or young males to continue to be the target of such abuse,” it says of one notorious defence base in Fremantle, HMAS Lueewin.

But the bastardisation is thought to have extended to molestation, with the report drawing 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 offenders could remain in the military, posing a risk to personnel and “the reputation and operational effectiveness of the ADF”.

The full 24-page executive summary of the report by the law firm DLA Piper was released to the ABC under freedom of information laws.

Mr Smith had released a heavily censored version of the report in March. He denied last night he was covering up the extent of abuse in the military, 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”.

The report was among seven separate reviews Mr Smith demanded after two male cadets secretly filmed an 18-year-old female Defence Force Academy cadet having sex.

Mr Smith said he would not rule out a royal commission into the sexual abuse problems.

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