New Zealand army cadets are bullied and abused

Some New Zealand army cadets have been subjected to bullying and serious abuse by senior cadets, but there is no culture of violence in the cadet academy, a retired high court judge found in a report published Thursday. Judge David Morris also found that a charge of manslaughter should have been laid against a senior cadet who shot and killed a junior cadet at the army's regular force cadet school at the Waiouru Military Camp on North Island in 1981.

A magistrates court found the perpetrator, only named as Cadet Read, guilty of the careless use of a firearm in the death of 17-year-old Cadet Grant Bain. He was fined and sentenced to community service. Read, described as "a violent-natured noncommissioned officer," was discharged from the defense force. He later died in an accident.

Defense Minister Phil Goff said the report confirmed "incidents" of physical abuse and that Morris had heard nine claims of sexual abuse. In the report, Morris made it clear there was bullying, sometimes of a serious nature, at the regular force cadet school between 1948 and 1991 when it closed.

Goff said he was pleased that no culture of violence had been confirmed in the Morris report, but that "if serious abuse did occur we would expect criminal charges to be laid." "If there was sexual abuse, then the victim needs to make a complaint to the police and they would follow up," he said.

The report detailed a range of bullying from "forced showering”, in which cadets were scrubbed with yard brooms under freezing showers, to beatings and kickings, and "spooning", cadets being beaten on the scrotum with spoons or sticks.

One former cadet told Morris: "I'm sterile because of it." But the judge said he had seen no medical evidence to support claims of widespread physical or sexual abuse and that such allegations were overstated.

"The suggestion (that) sexual abuse of cadets was widespread is totally without foundation. ... Sexual abuse of cadets was extremely rare," his report concludes. Morris said he accepted the statements of senior noncommissioned officers that they did not know of such abuse and believed they "were far from regular happenings," reports the AP. I.L.

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