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24 Feb, 2018 07:49

Sexual abuse & rape claims by children from Russian orphanage trigger probe

Sexual abuse that reportedly took place in an orphan boarding school sent shockwaves across Russia after its former residents described the horrors that happened there, claiming they had been raped by a visitor and staff.

A home for children with developmental disabilities in a tiny village in the Chelyabinsk Region has come under the spotlight of the Russian media this week after three adoptive families broke the silence over the nightmares their sons went through while living there.

All of them claim the boys were systematically raped by staff and one man who often came to visit. “I asked my son what they did with the man who came to see them. My son was stunned and said: ‘we made fried potatoes.’ I asked what else they did. ‘He raped me’ – that was his answer,” one of the mothers said.

Other parents also indicated that it was the same man who their children identified as Sergey. According to them, he would take the boys to the lake to fish or make fried potatoes, after which he would rape them in the reeds along with his friend. All the while, one of the supervisors who accompanied the children watched as they were molested.

As it was happening, the boys saw the men handing “green bits of paper” to the supervisors. Sergey wasn’t the only rapist, the kids claim. A married couple who worked in the home forced the children to take part in orgies.

When my son finally found [the] courage to tell everything, he said ‘I was so afraid, they told me they would drown me in the lake or would lock [me] up in a rehab for the rest of my life.’”

Yet, some of the residents of the Cheremushki village where the orphanage is located appear to be not sure about whether the harrowing allegations should be believed.

“How can it be? These kids use their imagination very well,” Raisa, an elderly woman who used to work in the home, told RT. Still, she conceded “it’s impossible to come up with all this.”

Others believe the orphanage has serious problems, with children running freely outside the premises without supervision. “These children beg and steal. They ask adults to buy them cigarettes and alcohol in a local store. They rape each other, those kids, and talk about it openly. Prisoners don’t speak as these kids do,” a woman named Natalia told RT.

“This is the orphanage where children from difficult families come from across our region. I wish the orphanage was fenced off.” Another local resident echoed Natalia’s words, saying that “children are on their own,” walking around and torturing stray animals.

The same day the story broke in a local news outlet, the region’s investigative committee announced they had arrested an alleged abuser, a 51-year-old local resident. 

Although the authorities didn’t name the man, he is believed to be Sergey Kokorin from Chelyabinsk. His family and friends, however, are convinced it was a frame-up, describing Sergey as “a decent, educated man.”

“There have been rumors about [the home] for a long time,” a woman who asked to be called Natalia and who lives with Sergey told RT. “I heard that young men who were brought up there came there to stay overnight and rape children. The headmaster let them. Last year, a boy hanged himself… And now they are trying to put all the blame on Sergey, that because he raped him, the boy committed suicide.”

READ MORE: ‘Child pornography’: US photographer’s exhibition in Moscow closes after controversy, protests

While Moscow investigators have taken over the case, children’s ombudsman Anna Kuznetsova instructed special commissions to inspect all orphanages in the Chelyabinsk Region. Earlier, Kuznetsova supported a bill that would impose harsher punishment for child sex abusers, introducing life sentences instead of the maximum 20 years in prison.