Boys at the home in North Bexley. Photo: Supplied
NSW Police had evidence an alleged paedophile network may have been operated by a Salvation Army officer from a southern Sydney boys home in the 1960s but never questioned the alleged ring leader or other officers, the Royal Commission has heard.
As the ongoing investigation into Salvation Amy boys homes in NSW and Queensland focused on the Home for Boys at North Bexley, the commission heard that in the late 1990s a former resident told police he had been sent to three properties 30 years earlier where he was raped and abused.
The man who organised the trips, the commission heard, was Captain Lawrence Wilson.
''I had been called to Wilson's office [and] when I arrived there was a man and a woman in the office with Wilson,'' the former resident said in a statement, which was read to the commission as its author sat fighting back tears.
''Wilson told me that I had to go with the couple. I left Bexley with them and they drove to a house in Punchbowl.''
Over the ensuing hours, the man and the woman indecently assaulted and attempted to rape the resident, known as FV, until he managed to escape to the Bexley home.
When FV returned and told Captain Wilson what had happened, he was told the couple were ''good people'' and was caned approximately 18 times. He was then sent to a poultry farm and the home of two women and was allegedly assaulted on both occasions.
The commission heard that years later FV went to the police who tried to pin-point alleged paedophiles by taking him back to the suburbs where the alleged offences occurred.
When FV was unable to remember the exact locations or the precise dates when the alleged incidents occurred it appears the investigation was abandoned.
''In the course of your inquiries, did you form any view that Wilson officiated over a paedophile network … renting boys out on the weekend?'' Counsel representing the Salvation Army at the Commission, Kate Eastman, SC, asked one of the officers who investigated the institution, Detective Inspector, Rick John Cunningham. ''I probably wouldn't use the word 'rent','' Inspector Cunningham replied.
''[We had] information from various former residents that they went to homes on weekends, that they were visitors to the Bexley home, but as to who sanctioned or organised, if that occurred, it's difficult to say.''
''Did you put that allegation to Wilson at any time?'' Ms Eastman asked.
''No,'' he replied.
''Did you put that particular allegation to anybody in the Salvation Army at that time?''
The commission heard FV's case was one of dozens of alleged rapes and indecent assaults against boys at Bexley that were reported to police years later but never came to court because of the victims' fading memories and investigators' reluctance to ''fish for victims''.
''The DPP require that there is at least a reasonable time period to put in relation to the allegation,'' Inspector Cunningham said.
He conceded that in 2008 when a senior Salvation Army officer, Major Peter Farthing, wrote to police about the activities of Captain Wilson, the police said they would not be investigating the claims because the complainants themselves had not come forward.
''It's considered more appropriate for people who wish to complain to come forward,'' Inspector Cunningham said.
Late on Thursday the Salvation Army announced that they had suspended another of those under investigation - John McIver - ''pending further investigations''.