A professor and NHS Trust Chair who oversaw the Jimmy Savile inquiry has told the media that an investigation into a care home in Gravesend was “the most troubling thing she has ever worked on.”
Dr Sue Proctor was brought in to review child abuse allegations of former care home residents at Kendall House. The care home was run by the Church of England.
Now, a former member of staff has come forward.
His testimony not only vindicates the women who as young girls were routinely raped, and drugged with powerful chemicals in quantities only safe for large animals like horses, but confirms the extent of the horror.
On his first day, the staff member, who has asked to go by the name Mr Simpson, was told by a coworker, “I would ask to leave here. What goes on here isn’t right.” He also describes a female manager who ran the care home like a military camp and frightened both the staff and the children.
What the staff member saw has left him with memories, he says, that make him feel sick. He says that whilst the children at Kendall House were no more unruly than ordinary teenagers, they were treated appallingly. He explains that the girls were given drugs at every meal, kept in a cell for 24 hours for trying to run away, or straitjackets, given electric shock treatment, and routinely raped.
The member of staff says he wrote a letter to the Guardian, took his concerns to the National Council for Civil Liberties and was made aware that the police had received allegations too, but no one did anything.
The article tells us that:
“Mr Simpson still has the notes he took secretly of drugs administered to girls, listed under “breakfast, tea and supper” and some poured into cups of tea.
He noted oxytetrin, a veterinary product used to treat infections, thioridazine, used to treat schizophrenia and psychosis, and dalmane, which is for insomnia.”
The priest overseeing the home, who was also Director of Social Services for Kent, and considered himself to be a social activist and had written books about child welfare, was never reported to the police. Rev Nicolas Stacey went on record saying that youngsters in care could be “incredibly manipulative” and would make things up. He was widely considered to be a pioneer of social services at the time. Stacey died in May of this year.
It’s wonderful to see another whistleblower coming out and giving his testimony, even if it’s a little later than expected.
When Researching Reform first started working in the child welfare sector ten years ago, we had the enormous privilege of assisting Teresa Cooper, a former care leaver from Kendall House who first exposed the scandal, over fifteen years ago. The Church tried to shut her down, organisations ignored the evidence she had collected over a period spanning 30 years and politicians wouldn’t touch the story. But she never stopped campaigning.
It is thanks to Teresa that the abuse she and other girls suffered at Kendall House has become mainstream knowledge. If you’d like to learn more about Teresa and Kendall House, her blog No2Abuse is the definitive resource on the subject.
You can read the Church of England’s report here.
And if you’d like to know more about the scientific experiments these girls endured, from the chemical cosh to electric shock therapy, and the abuse both sexual and emotional they lived through – though many have since committed suicide thanks to their ordeal – we highly recommend Teresa’s book ‘Pin Down’.
Many thanks to Teresa for sharing this update with us. You can follow Teresa on Twitter @TeresaCooper.