Allegations of Abuse in Institutions

Salvation Army Homes - Main Index

Index 2003 (Jan-Aug)

The Dominion Post
August 22 2003

Salvation Army 'faces case surge'
by Sue Allen

The Salvation Army can expect more abuse cases to be brought against it, a sex abuse lawyer believes.

The Salvation Army said yesterday it was dealing with four claims of sex abuse and four of other abuse. It would not provide details of the claims.

Sonja Cooper, a Wellington-based lawyer, said she was dealing with another case, a woman who was allegedly abused while living at a Salvation Army home in Wellington between 1951 and 1961.

The Salvation Army had not been informed of the case because the legal team was still finalising evidence and dealing with legal aid, she said.

"There are a significant number of other claims still to come for the Salvation Army. Abuse was endemic in institutions at that time. It was a time when many, many New Zealand children were abused."

People often suppressed memories as a way of coping and came forward only after reading about similar cases, she said.

Salvation Army spokesman Alistair Herring said yesterday it had received several more telephone calls from people claiming to have suffered abuse.

"We have set up processes to hear them and set in train what they are seeking. We are taking appropriate action for that to happen and we are only too pleased to hear from those people."

The Salvation Army's chief secretary for New Zealand, Lieutenant-Colonel Garth McKenzie, said none of the cases had been referred to the police.

"Frequently, people don't want matters referred to the police. I know it seems odd. Maybe they want to be heard and we enable that to happen. We follow through appropriately and if it becomes a police matter we would refer it on to them."

The cases were particularly hard to deal with because the events were up to 40 years old and many of the people involved were dead, he said.

The Salvation Army was appalled, however, at the idea that people in their care had been abused.

It is estimated the Salvation Army cared for between 6000 and 8000 children at the 15 centres it operated between 1903 and 1993.

Kapiti resident Jan Lowe said this week that two years after going to the Salvation Army she was still seeking an apology and compensation for abuse and neglect suffered at the Whatman Children's Home in Masterton between 1958 and 1960.

Mr McKenzie said he was surprised at the delay with Ms Lowe's case and the Salvation Army was looking into it. Seven remaining cases had been received in the past year and were being dealt with.

So far no compensation had been paid, he said.