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Second Group Of Institution Abuse Victims Receive Payout
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
August 2, 2004

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND--Dozens of former patients at Lake Alice Hospital have received an average of $47,000 each to compensate them for the mistreatment they endured while at the psychiatric institution in the 1960s and 1970s.

The New Zealand Herald reported over the weekend that the government has paid a total of $4.2 million to 88 people in a "second wave" of complaints, this time by former patients of the hospital's notorious child and adolescent unit.

The average age of the patients at the time of the alleged abuse was 11 years. The unit itself was closed in 1978.

The former patients alleged in recent years that hospital staff often punished them by performing electric shock treatments on them without benefit of anesthesia, isolating them for long periods of time, and injecting them with strong sedatives. They also claimed that as children they were locked in rooms with adults who sexually abused them.

Three years ago, 95 other former Lake Alice patients were given a total of $6.5 million in compensation. The government also apologized for the way they were mistreated at the mental institution.

In addition to these sets of claims, more than 200 patients of other former New Zealand psychiatric hospitals have filed claims alleging they were mistreated during the same time period. They are seeking up to $500,000 compensation each and exemplary damages approaching $50,000. A settlement with the government may be in the works.

In a related story, the Herald wrote Monday that police have not decided -- after two years -- whether to prosecute Dr. Selwyn Leeks, the psychiatrist who ran the child and adolescent unit from 1972 to 1977. More than 30 former patients have called for criminal charges to be filed against Leeks for his part in their abuse.

Leeks, 70, no longer practices in New Zealand. He is under investigation for allegations of sexual misconduct with a former female patient in Melbourne, Australia.

"Former Lake Alice patients win $4.2m payout" (New Zealand Herald)
"Police told to hurry up on investigation into psychiatrist" (New Zealand Herald)
"Culture Of Abuse At Former New Zealand Institutions" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)

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