An Adelaide man has launched legal action against the Anglican Church and the State Government over alleged serious physical and sexual abuse more than 70 years ago.
The man, identified only as Jonathan in District Court documents, is seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation over the alleged incidents between 1948 and 1965.
They occurred at the now-defunct St Mary’s Children’s Home in Halifax St, city, and the notorious Walkerville Boys’ Home. Jonathan, 76, was aged two when he was placed in St Mary’s in May 1948, and he remained there until December 1951.
He was then transferred to Walkerville Boys’ Home where he remained until 1965, when he was almost 19.
His statement of claim details the extensive physical and sexual abuse he alleges at both institutions over an extended period of time.
He alleges he was admitted to hospital five times in a seven-month period for a total of 42 days “due to neglect’’ while at St Mary’s, was attacked by another child who smashed a bottle on his left hand, injuring tendons, was cut several times with a razor blade by the same child, and was locked in a shed that was then set alight, resulting in burns to his right arm.
He alleges the physical abuse continued at Walkerville, where he was also sexually assaulted by other boys and staff members.
The abuse included being held down in a playroom at Walkerville by six or seven older boys, sat upon by four of them with his arms and legs immobilised and then sexually assaulted.
“He was confused and shamed and violated and enraged by this incident,’’ the claim states. Jonathan alleges the abuse has resulted in long-term disorders including recurring nightmares, anxiety, depression, acute stress, a personality disorder, hypervigilance and acute PTSD “arising from violent incidents whilst in institutional care’’.
The claim states he first sought assistance from the Anglican diocese between 1997 and 2000 “to manage his physical and psychological injuries’’ but this was refused.
In its defence, the church denies liability or that it owed Jonathan a duty at common law or under statute.
It also states that Jonathan’s claims are “vague, unparticularised and embarrassing’’ and that it cannot respond further without more particulars of the specific breaches alleged.
“The synod has not been able, following reasonable search, to identify any records addressing the specific allegations raised,’’ its defence states.
It also states the synod no longer has access to the records of each institution and that officers involved “are likely to have passed away’’.