Australia investigating rapes at long-closed girls' reform school

March 6, 2014 at 3:51 PM

SYDNEY, March 6 (UPI) -- The Australian government has opened the doors of the long-closed Parramatta Girls School, where former inmates say they were abused and raped.

The (Sydney) Daily Telegraph was allowed to tour the basement Thursday, including the dungeon where girls were kept in chains as punishment. Former inmates have also described the basement shower room as a place where corrections officers watched as girls bathed naked.

The school closed in 1974. A royal commission is now investigating the mistreatment of girls sent there after 1950, the Telegraph said.

Mary Hooker, now 55, told the commission about being locked in when she was 14. She said she was sexually assaulted by the school's superintendent and two deputies.

"These scars on my body ... will always heal but the memories will still be there and will continue until my death," Hooker said.

Wilma Robb, another former inmate, said when she was 14 she was beaten and her face pushed into the sink. She said she was then ordered to clean the blood from the sink.

Former inmates want the building in Parramatta, a Sydney suburb, to be converted to a museum. On Sunday, the public has been invited to visit the grounds for a memorial service for 129 children who died there during the building's years as an orphanage and later as a girls' reform school.

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