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29 January 2015

The Independent Jersey Care Inquiry heard from two live witnesses today about abuse at Haut de la Garrene in the '70s. Counsel  to the Inquiry was Harriet Jerram.

Speaking anonymously behind a special screen in the Inquiry Room, Mr H said he was at Haut de la Garenne in the early '70s and described how things changed for him after his brother left.  Mr H stated that certain documents about his time in care were different to his own recollection of events. He recalled being taken to the detention room at night where a younger boy was crying & being raped. He was told it'd be his turn next. He pointed out the location of the cellar on a map of HDLG where he said he and other boys were raped on a number of occasions by members of staff.  When staff made threats of physical punishment for speaking about a rape they would always carry them out – such as cigarette burns. Mr H said he and other boys would try and run away a couple of times a week but would get picked up by the Police. He said he'd tell the Police he was being sexually abused at HDLG but was told he had to go back anyway. He told the Inquiry that there had been a "big coverup" to protect his alleged abuser after statements to the police were apparently lost.

Also speaking anonymously, Mrs W told the Inquiry that her childhood was “extremely traumatic” and as a result she had blocked out almost all memories of it until recently.  She recalled being sexually abused from the age of five by someone involved in the Catholic Church but never told anyone. In 1976 she was sent aged 10 HDLG after suffering physical and mental abuse from her mother. Her initial impressions were positive but said very soon she didn’t feel safe because of certain members of staff who were verbally and mentally abusive. She had praise for other staff who were helpful and encouraged her interest in cookery. She recalled being one of a number of children selected to meet Jimmy Savile when he visited but wasn’t aware of him acting inappropriately with anyone. She praised the Jersey Care Leavers Association for helping survivors realise they were not alone. Mrs W said she had come forward in the hope that it would reassure some of the people she was with, that it is okay to talk about what happened – it wasn’t their fault. She told the Inquiry that she wished that people in positions across the whole of the islands would listen to children and ensure that no one went through what she and others had suffered.

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