A royal commission has heard how one man turned a Salvation Army boys’ home in Sydney into a hell that has left an indelible mark on a generation of men.
A man, now a miner, was so distraught by memories of what had happened to him at a Salvation Army boys home in Sydney that he could not read his evidence at a royal commission inquiry.
When he took the stand at a public hearing into child sexual abuse on Thursday, the man identified as FV, faltered as he told about hearing his younger brother was raped.
They had been sent to the Bexley Boys Home in Sydney south in 1974 when Captain Lawrence Wilson was in charge and placed in different dormitories.
In evidence read on his behalf by Simeon Beckett counsel assisting the commission, FV said he was raped by Cpt Wilson and a few weeks later was collected by a man and woman and taken to a house in Punchbowl, Sydney.
The couple were in Salvation Army uniforms and the big woman “had short blond hair and looked to be in her 30s”.
At Punchbowl the couple tried to force him to have sex. He ran away and got a train back to Bexley where Captain Wilson was waiting and gave him 18 stripes with a cane and told him “they were good people I sent you to”.
Twice more during his time at Bexley he was sent to people’s homes, once to a property in Blacktown, and another time to the house of two women.
FV resumed his evidence to tell the commission how his experiences at Bexley affected him.
“The sexual attacks on myself are the hardest things to deal with, one day you are a boy the next you are a shell walking around,” he said.
He was savagely attacked by Mr Wilson one day for laughing.
“One thing I will never forget was the day Wilson dragged me along the hall, caned me and then bashed me like a bulldog tearing apart a rag doll,” he said.
He said Bexley made him tough but he still has nightmares so intense he cannot get back to sleep.
NSW police could not find enough evidence in 1998 to charge Mr Wilson with running a pedophile ring.
Wilson died in 2008 the same year the Salvation Army reported allegations against him, related to the time he was at Bexley and in Queensland.
The public inquiry is focusing on four homes run by The Salvation Army in the 60s and 70s, two in NSW and two in Queensland.
Many allegations are about five officers, including Wilson. The others are Victor Bennett who died in 1986, Donald Schultz dismissed in 2005 and John McIver who was still an officer up to Thursday when the Salvation Army suspended him.
In a statement they said the suspension was in light of evidence at the commission.
Over the past few days the commission has heard that Mr McIver, now in his mid-70s, physically and sexually abused children at Bexley in NSW and at Indooroopilly in Queensland where he was a manager.
It is alleged that Mr McIver whipped one boy at Bexley until he developed welts and was bleeding.
He then allegedly fondled his genitals before threatening the boy he would “beat the life” out of him if he told anyone.