The UK Ministry of Defense paid out more than £2 million ($3.1m) in out-of-court settlements over the last three years as a result of sex abuse claims against young people in the cadet forces, it has been revealed.
Teenage boys performed sex abuse rituals on younger cadets in their charge and one cadet who was raped gave birth to her abuser's child, according to allegations unearthed by The Guardian under Freedom of Information laws.
The cadet forces are UK Ministry of Defense-sponsored youth organizations often affiliated with private and — less commonly — state schools. Pupils of both genders usually join in their early teens.
Eight payouts totalling £544,213 ($846,452) were made this year for alleged sexual abuse within the Army Cadets, Combined Cadet Force, and Air Cadet Organization.
Some of the settlements relate to historic claims; however, some are understood to relate to recent abuse complaints.
In one case, the mother of a boy abused by two older teenage cadets said she had not received an apology from authorities despite receiving an out-of-court settlement of just over £23,000 ($35,773).
The abuse, which took place at a cadets' weekend in the East Anglia region, allegedly involved the two older boys going into a dormitory on a number of occasions and lying naked on top of the younger cadets, forcing them to perform sex acts. Despite reporting the abuse to the police, the mother claimed, the alleged perpetrators were not interviewed until nine months later and were ultimately not charged but given a warning.
The mother told the newspaper: "The two lads have got away with it, they just received warnings, and it was put on file. (The police) said it was bullying and intimidation of a sexual nature — because it wasn't anything like a rape."
She added: "I believe that they had been doing it for a while. It makes me sick and saddened inside. It really, really, does. I was told that the cadets had their own internal investigation but I'm not aware of what happened."
Another out-of-court settlement involved a member who was sexually abused by an adult instructor. The alleged abuse began when the claimant was 14 and progressed to rape, which led to her becoming pregnant and giving birth to the abuser's child. She received £210,000 (£326,670) from the MoD.
Some of the sex abuse committed on MoD property including severe assaults by two cadet force instructors at an army hut, rifle range and camp. Lawyers for the victims said the abuse was openly acknowledged and appeared to have been accepted as normal. One of the instructors was arrested while he was a serving police officer in the West Midlands constabulary. He was convicted of buggery and indecent assault in September 2007.
A senior solicitor at Bolt Burdon Kemp said it was "common practice" for sex offenders to seek out positions of authority in organizations like the Army Cadets.
"It is terrible that often these children have joined the cadets with a view to a career in the armed services, which they are unable to pursue as a result of abuse by people that they should have been able to trust," Rebecca Sheriff said.
An MoD spokesperson said: "We take any allegation of abuse extremely seriously. All adult volunteers undergo enhanced criminal record checks and are made fully aware of their responsibility to protect children from harm. Any suspicion of bullying, harassment or abuse will be dealt with immediately and any allegation of a criminal nature is handed to the police."
Earlier this month the UK Scout Association admitted it had paid out around £500,000 ($777,834) in compensation to victims of child abuse and said it was "deeply sorry" for anybody hurt by the actions of abusers.
The association said that all of the actions relate to historic cases. 48 civil actions relating to child abuse have been made against the Scout Association since its inception in 1907, and 36 of these have been made since October 2012.
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