St Joseph’s Home (otherwise known as the Neerkol Orphanage) was the last place on earth for hundreds of wards of the state in Queensland. The Sisters of Mercy ruled over the children with an iron fist and dished out harsh punishments, including floggings, deprivation of meals and stomping on children with high heels.
The children also lived in fear of the priests from the Catholic Diocese of Rockhampton. The priests would abuse, rape and sodomise the children – but it wasn’t just the priests. Other staff members were to blame, too.
One of the worst of the alleged offenders was Mr Kevin Baker.
He was the groundskeeper.
In this article, we shine a spotlight on Baker’s crimes and how he was brought to justice.
Baker was a former resident of Neerkol and went on to torment the underage residents as an adult
Baker was a former resident of Neerkol. In adulthood, he secured a job as the groundskeeper and was given a “free run of the place”.
Baker’s most vocal alleged victim, known as AYL, told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse all about her experience at Neerkol and the hell Baker put her through.
AYL was just ten years old when she was sent to live at Neerkol in 1961.
From 1963 onwards, Baker allegedly raped and abused the preteen girl. On one occasion, AYL allegedly caught Baker raping another boy until blood was running down his legs. AYL reported the abuse to the Sisters but she was slapped across the face and forced to clean the floors with a toothbrush.
According to AYL’s testimony at the Royal Commission, Baker allegedly cornered her the next day and raped her with both his fingers and a broom handle. He allegedly told her if she made another accusation against him, he would force the broom not a “few inches, but a few feet” inside her.
As a last resort, AYL went to the confessional and told Father Kevin Anderson about the ongoing abuse.
She was told she was just like her mother, who had been sent to a mental health clinic.
On another occasion, Baker and two other male employees allegedly bound, gagged and raped her, leaving her pregnant at the age of 14 years old. Again, she wasn’t believed and instead sent to Mitchelton, Brisbane, where she gave birth. A nun took her baby away, never to be seen again.
“I do not know what happened to the baby,” AYL said.
AYL was not the sole survivor of Baker’s alleged wrath.
Baker would also allegedly abuse the boys wherever possible. According to another of Baker’s alleged victims, Joseph Kiernan, Baker would watch the boys shower and touch them to make sure they were clean.
In 1988, Kevin Baker was indicted on 59 charges related to his time at Neerkol
Baker faced several trials but was never convicted. He still maintains his innocence.
Baker’s barrister, Peter Callaghan SC, was aggressive with Baker’s victims under cross-examination.
What a slap in the face for the individuals who have had to live with what Baker allegedly did to them. After years of sexual abuse and harassment, Baker’s lawyer had the gall to ridicule their testimonies.
Feature Image: South Burnett Times