Sex attack cadets still in military

ABOUT 10 defence force members suspected of involvement in rapes of female cadets at the Australian Defence Force Academy in the 1990s are still serving in the military, the Chief of the Defence Force, David Hurley, has revealed.

General Hurley said the defence members were still in their jobs and had not been stood aside since their alleged involvement was discovered by the Australian Defence Force Investigative Service.

ADFIS began looking into the so-called "ADFA 24" rape cases after an inquiry by law firm DLA Piper found that male cadets who committed the rapes in the late 1990s, or turned a blind eye, might now be in middle to senior ranks.

Asked on Tuesday on Sky News whether any of them were still serving, General Hurley said: "There are about 10 people . . . that are still serving.

"The evidence and the data that's available is quite sketchy on some of these things and I think it might be premature to make those decisions," he said.

It was unclear on Tuesday night whether the people were perpetrators or witnesses who helped cover up the rapes.

The DLA Piper report found: "It is possible that male cadets who raped female cadets at ADFA in the late 1990s and other cadets who witnessed such rape and did not intervene may now be in 'middle' to 'senior' management positions in the ADF."

The report noted that none of these cases appeared to have gone to trial.

Last last month, Defence Minister Stephen Smith set up a taskforce, led by former military judge Len Roberts-Smith, to examine abuse more broadly in the ADF.

Mr Smith then refused to say how many people might still be serving but said the results of the ADFIS investigation would "be made available firstly to the relevant state or federal police or prosecutorial authorities, and secondly, that same work will be made available to Len Roberts-Smith".

He set up the DLA Piper inquiry after the "Skype affair", in which a male cadet had consensual sex with a female cadet, and secretly filmed it so that others could watch live.

DLA Piper identified 755 plausible allegations of abuse in the military going back to the 1950s. It has sent letters to the alleged victims asking for permission for their information to be passed onto the Roberts-Smith taskforce.

Concerns have been raised about this process.

Dan Mori, the former US military lawyer for David Hicks, who now works with Australian law firm Shine, said Mr Smith had set up the inquiry without explaining to victims how it would work.

"The minister announcing the new taskforce without the structure actually in place is only leading to confusion for the victims," Mr Mori said.

Melbourne man John White, 59 – who claimed he sustained repeated beatings in three years at HMAS Leeuwin in the 1960s – said the letter from DLA Piper gave him no information about how his case would be handled. "If you don't sign it, you're buggered," he said. "If you sign it, you're signing your life away."

Mr Smith has left open the door for a royal commission specifically into the "ADFA 24" rape cases, as well as the abuse of boy sailors as young as 13 at former navy training centre HMAS Leeuwin in Western Australia.

The DLA Piper inquiry referred to a groundbreaking 1998 study by Bronwen Grey, of the Defence Equity Organisation.

"It is likely that one girl has been raped three times. It is likely that two former cadets graduated at the end of 1997 have each raped three female cadets," the Grey report stated, in an extract cited by DLA Piper.

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