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New sex scandal hits Australian defence force

13 january 2012, 10:41
0
©REUTERS/Tim Wimborne
©REUTERS/Tim Wimborne
The Australian military was rocked Thursday by a new sex scandal, including allegations of assault, child porn, rape and drug-dealing within its ranks, AFP reports.

Documents obtained by Channel Seven News under the Freedom of Information Act detail what it called "ongoing, often major, breaches of discipline in Australia's armed forces".

It said more than 100 incidents had been reported in the last year, from weapons mishaps to sexual assault, especially in the Navy where allegations of misconduct on four warships are being investigated.

Among them, alleged sexual assaults on HMAS Newcastle and HMAS Diamantina have been referred to police.

The documents, referred to as the "Hot Issues Brief", say a senior officer on the HMAS Success was reported to police for video-taping sexual encounters he had with junior sailors.

Seven months earlier, a female sailor aboard the same vessel claimed she had been indecently assaulted during a port visit to Singapore by a male shipmate.

On HMAS Toowoomba, a female sailor complained of indecent assault, bullying, and harassment, including a so-called "Beer Bounty" being placed on her: free beer for the first sailor to have sex with the woman.

Other incidents include a female civilian who was reportedly assaulted at the Royal Military College at Duntroon.

Seven News said the documents also contained "a handful of child porn charges, drug dealing, and rape allegations".

Other local media said they included a Brisbane soldier charged with rape and stalking, while a Townsville-based corporal was found dead ahead of a scheduled court appearance on child exploitation charges.

The revelations add to the unwanted reputation the military has gained with the Australian Defence Force stung in recent years by a string of allegations, some decades old, of abusive and sexist behaviour in its ranks.

Claims against the defence force came to a head last year with a report into incidents on board the supply ship HMAS Success in 2009 finding a sexually predatory and boozy culture, concealed through silence and fear.

This was followed by a high-profile case of an 18-year-old female cadet who went to the media saying she had sex with a fellow defence academy classmate who allegedly broadcast the encounter on Skype so his friends could watch.

That incident sparked several inquiries, including one into the treatment of women in the armed forces that in November reported "widespread low-level sexual harassment" at Australia's premier military college.

Adding to defence force woes, a senior naval officer was last month jailed for 18 months for repeatedly spanking a junior female sailor in what he claimed was a test of her discipline and obedience.

In a statement, the Australian Defence Force said it has "no tolerance for misconduct or security breaches".

"Defence is a large organisation with a diverse workforce of almost 103,000 military and civilian members," it said.

"Defence establishes and expects each member to uphold the highest values and standards of personal behaviour.

"An organisation is measured in how it responds to such allegations.

"Defence has responded promptly to these incidents, including referring criminal matters to relevant civil authorities."

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