In 2012, New South Wales police uncovered 38 people living in a filthy bush camp outside the tiny town of Boorowa. DNA tests would reveal the group, known as "the Colts" to protect the identities of the children involved, were deeply inbred. According to News Corp reports, "11 of the children in the camp were the product of a sexual relationship by their mothers with either a brother, father or other close male relative."
This week, almost six years later, eight adult members of the Colts were arrested, facing charges over allegations of incest and sexual abuse of children.
Two were picked up in Griffith, NSW, including a 45-year-old man who was charged with six counts of sexual intercourse with a child under 10, four counts of indecent assault, sexual intercourse with a child aged between 10-14, aggravated act of indecency, and common assault. A woman, 38, was charged with perjury.
In Adelaide, two women, aged 50 and 34, faced perjury charges. A 29-year-old man is charged with two counts of incest with a minor. Four others faced court in Western Australia, after being picked up by police in Northam, about an hour-and-a-half north east of Perth. They included a 36-year-old man, who was charged with four counts of sexual intercourse with a child under 10, two counts of indecent assault, and having sexual intercourse with a child aged between 10-14.
The discovery of the Colt family shocked the world in 2012. As the Sydney Morning Herald reported, "The children were malnourished, filthy, could barely talk, had appalling hygiene and had been living without electricity and running water."
The appearance of the children, and their rare appearances in school, brought the family to the attention of authorities. About a year after the family moved into Boorowa, teachers and the local bus driver started raising red flags. But, as reporter Anne Davies noted, "it took two years before the department acted. Finally, in June 2012, the authorities visited and were met with scenes of harrowing deprivation. One police officer told colleagues she would never get over what she saw that day."
Many of the children were mentally and physically impaired. Some didn't even know how to use a tooth brush. The court removed them from the family immediately, which set a new precedent for Australian case law.
Prosecutors will apply to have all of the accused extradited to NSW to face court.
More as this story develops.