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Islanders shocked by child abuse claims

  • Story Highlights
  • Police reveal more allegations of child abuse on Jersey
  • Over 150 people have come forward with horrific allegations of abuse years ago
  • Body of one child was unearthed at children's home
  • Police are excavating sites in search for more bodies
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From CNN's Phil Black
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JERSEY, Channel Islands (CNN) -- Police are excavating several sites in the grounds of a former children's home on the English Channel island of Jersey as more allegations emerge of child abuse spanning several decades.

Investigators unearthed the body of one child at the home, Haut de la Garenne, this week, and ground-penetrating radar and trained dogs have identified six other sites that police plan to excavate soon.

Of particular interest to search teams will be a hidden bricked-up cellar, which investigators have started to excavate following an all clear from structural survey engineers.

The cellar had been off limits due to concerns it may collapse.
Video Watch as Jersey reels from abuse claims »

More than 150 people have told police they suffered abuse at the children's home or other institutions on the island since the discovery.

"We must all fear that more remains will be found," said Stuart Syvret, a local politician.

The authorities plan to resume digging soon at the ex-children's home, where recent allegations have colored the international view of Jersey, which lies close to the French coast but is a dependency of the British crown.

"You'd go to bed at night, sleeping, and all of a sudden your arms would be held down and the next thing you know you're getting raped," recalled Peter Hannaford, who spent the first 12 years of his life at the former children's home.

"You were subject to constant abuse ... It was every night, and you were scared to go to bed."

He wants the old children's home destroyed.

"That building has long been known on this island as a place where young boys were punished severely, where they suffered," he told CNN.

"Many of those boys have grown up to be old men here telling horrible stories of mistreatment. But even they are shocked by what is now being uncovered at Haut de la Garenne."

Another former resident, Ken Lequesne, said he was beaten in the children's home.

"Horrendous," he said. "I can't believe what's gone on in there."

Syvret, the politician, alleged a "long-established culture of covering up alleged abuses." He said "abuse and maltreatment and appalling cruelty to children" has happened on the island for some time -- a claim the local government denies.

Many questions on Jersey remain unanswered, such as whether more gruesome discoveries await and whether anyone will face prison time as a result of the growing scandal.

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Yet Graham Power, the chief police officer on Jersey, promised a thorough investigation.

"This will be a hard time for Jersey, but when we get it through to the finish, we'll be a better society because of it," he said. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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