AN investigation into claims of a cover-up has been launched after more than 140 people contacted police over abuse at a detention centre.
Police have been inundated with allegations of physical and sexual abuse at the Medomsley Detention Centre, near Consett, during the late 1970s and early 1980s.
The centre first made national headlines in 2003 when Neville Husband, an officer at Medomsley, was sentenced to ten years in jail for serious sexual assaults on several teenagers in the 1970s and 80s, including York campaigner Kevin Young.
Mr Young has previously spoken publicly of the trauma he suffered after being sent to Medomsley in 1977 after being convicted of receiving stolen property. He has spent much of the last decade campaigning for justice.
Detective Superintendent Paul Goundry, who is leading the latest inquiry into the detention centre, codenamed Operation Seabrook, said: “There are claims that there was cover-up that went right to the top and that Husband couldn’t have continued the abuse without others either turning a blind eye or helping.
“How far up it went, and whether or not people turned a blind eye and were complicit in it, is a clear line of inquiry for this investigation.”
After serving his sentence, Husband, a disgraced United Reformed Minister, died of natural causes at his home in 2010.
The investigation was renewed last August. It has since become the largest inquiry of its kind, with about 80 officers involved, along with a support network– including Rape Crisis, The Meadows Sexual Assault Referral Centre and the NSPCC.
Det Supt Goundry said about half of the new victims alleged physical abuse “far beyond what was meant by a short, sharp shock”. The remainder claimed sexual abuse – the bulk of whom said they had been been abused by Husband.
The Press reported in 2007 how Mr Young battled to get over the catalogue of sexual and physical abuse he suffered while being moved between up to 50 different care homes and institutions as a child.
When he grew up, he put the past behind him and built up a security business, but his life went into a nosedive when two days before Christmas in 1996, he had a chance encounter with Husband in the street.
In 2003 he started legal action against the Home Office and Catholic Care (Diocese of Leeds), which ran the institutions where he was abused.
In 2008 the Law Lords ruled in favour of Kevin Young, allowing him and several other attack victims, to sue for damages, years afterwards.