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A Royal Commission into child sexual abuse in Australia began hearing evidence into allegations of abuse at four Salvation Army homes for children between 1966 and 1977.
Boys at a Salvation Army children's home in Australia were "rented out" to paedophiles who entered their dormitories at night, a royal commission into child sexual abuse has heard.

One boy was sent by a superintendent, Captain Lawrence Wilson, to the home of a husband and wife, who sexually abused him. The couple were in Salvation Army uniforms and the woman "had short blond hair and looked to be in her 30s," the alleged victim told the commission. He said he returned to the home and revealed what had happened to Captain Wilson, who said the couple were "good people" and caned the boy 18 times.

"The sexual attacks on myself are the hardest things to deal with, one day you are a boy the next you are a shell walking around," he said.

Another man told the commission that the boys, who lived at a Salvation Army home in Sydney, would sometimes be sexually abused by men who broke into their rooms at night.

"He [Captain Wilson] physically raped me in his office within a few months of being there and it happened several more times," the man alleged in a statement.

"You would be sent out to stay with other people and they would do it to you or there were the prowlers, men who allegedly broke into the place at night and tampered with the boys. Even now I still can't sleep... Wilson got me out of bed at night times. Sometimes it was strangers who came up the fire escape ... old men came in at night. There was no supervision."

The horrific accounts of abuse were given at a broad commission which is investigating sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, orphanages, schools, community groups and other institutions.

Some of the worst abuses emerged this week during hearings into four Salvation Army homes between 1966 and 1977, where majors allegedly sodomised boys aged six to 17 with a garden hose and savagely beat them until they bled.

Captain Wilson, described by counsel assisting the commission as "the most serious offender" in Sydney, was eventually charged with 19 offences involving buggery and assault but was tried and acquitted in 1997. He died in 2008.

A police officer involved in the investigation, Detective Inspector Rick John Cunningham, told the commission: "Based on my own experience ... it is often difficult for victims to pinpoint dates."

Three of the five officers being examined are still alive. All deny the allegations.