Allegations of Abuse in Institutions

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Index 2005

The Timaru Herald
May 6 2005

Police probing abuse by Salvation Army
by Rhonda Markby

Timaru police are investigating historical abuse allegations against staff at the Salvation Army's Temuka children's home in the 1970s.

The army's New Zealand secretary general Colonel Robin Forsyth yesterday confirmed at least some of the five people who had gone to the church 20 months ago alleging abuse at the Bramwell Booth home had laid a complaint with the police.

The complaints are being investigated by Timaru CIB staff but Detective Sergeant Marion Neill would not comment on the nature of the abuse being alleged, the number of complainants or the number of alleged offenders.

She said it was usual for those making such complaints to contact police in the area where they lived.

The church has previously stated that the five -- four men and a woman -- claimed they had been both physically and sexually abused.

"We have been cooperating fully with the police and anything they have asked of us we have cooperated with. We have given them the information that they required of us," Mr Forsyth said.

He too would not comment on the number of complainants who had gone to the police, or the number of former staff the allegations had been made against.

"We have had a policy where we do not discuss individual cases and it is more for the protection of those who are involved on the side of abuse.

"We want to make it as painless as possible, even though it is still going to be painful."

Mr Forsyth understood the five were the only ones to have approached the church in relation to their treatment at the Bramwell Booth Home.

Any discussion regarding possible settlements for the five complainants had been put on hold until the outcome of the police investigation was known.

Mr Forsyth said there had been no indication from the police as to how long their investigation would take.

Police have investigated some of the abuse allegations made against staff at other of the church's homes.

In August 2003 the church acknowledged it had received 36 allegations of abuse, although the majority preceded the Bramwell Booth complaints, and came from those who had been children in the 1940s and 1950s and had lived in the church's 15 homes.

Last month the church said it had made settlements with virtually all of the 36 people who had contacted it regarding abuse alleged to have taken place in its homes.

Most of the complaints originated from stays at the Hodderville Boys Home in the Waikato town of Putaruru and a Salvation Army home in Masterton.

Among those to have lodged claims were double murderer Gresham Marsh who is serving a life sentence for murdering elderly Waikato couple John and Josie Harrisson in 1994.

The church offered him a payout of $21,125 to have his tattoos removed, to change his name and to receive counselling for abuse he allegedly suffered as a child in Hodderville Boys Home in Putaruru.

Marsh has been receiving ACC-funded trauma counselling for abuse he says he suffered as a child.

The church has always refused to say how much it has paid out in compensation to claimants.