Sordid details of intergenerational incest and horrific child abuse on a secluded farm in Australia have been revealed in what is likely to worst case of its kind in Australia's history.
Twelve children ranging in age from five to 16 years old have been permanently removed from an extended family that had been living in primitive conditions in what is said to be an incestuous community.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the children were discovered in a group of about 40 people on a scrubby lot in mid-2012 in "scenes of harrowing deprivation" that shocked childcare workers and police.
Proceedings before the Children's Court heard the family was living without permanent electricity or running water. There were no toilets and they were forced to wash in a tub.
The caravans and tents where they slept were covered in dirt, cigarette butts and rubbish.
The children had been neglected in significant ways, most far behind their peers in educational development, some appeared to have permanent intellectual impairment, and several were unable to speak intelligibly.
Their health was appalling and some did not know how to use a toothbrush.
The family had been given a timeframe to fix the property but after new information emerged the government ordered the children be removed immediately.
Away from their families, the children showed inappropriate sexual behaviour and told carers they had engaged in sexual acts with each other and watched adults having sex on the farm.
Genetic testing showed all but one child of the 12 removed had parents who were related or closely related The Sydney Morning Herald said.
There are four mothers involved, three of whom are sisters, referred to in court documents by the pseudonyms Rhonda, 47, Betty, 46, and Martha, 33. The fourth mother, Raylene, 30, is the oldest child of Betty, who has 30 children.
The mothers have disputed the genetic tests and offered the names of alternate fathers, all of which are either dead or unable to be located.
Some of the detail of their incestuous existence includes evidence from Dwayne, one of Betty's sons.
He told his carers he and his siblings were told never to tell anyone that their father was in fact his grandfather because his mother would be sent to jail because she had started having sex with him when she was 12.
Other evidence includes Betty's third child, Tammy, 27, who revealed more detail when she was taking out an apprehended violence order against her partner, Derek.
Tammy told a social worker that Derek - who had threatened "to kill her if he couldn't have her" - was in fact her younger brother and father of her children.
She also revealed she had been abused within the family "from the age of 12 when other family members began having sex with her, including her brothers and cousins". She said the same happened to other girls on the farm and her that her mother had encouraged this activity.
Federal authorities and child protection agencies across several states are investigating how several generations of children fell through the cracks to be subjected to terrible abuse at the hands of their parents.