A shocking case of child sex abuse and intergenerational incest has been claimed by authorities who removed 12 children from a home in southwest NSW.
The family had been under investigation for neglect and abuse for two years, until a dozen children were removed last year, according to the ABC.
The children, all under the age of 16, are believed to be part of a dark family secret that has lasted for three generations.
Disturbing and depraving secrets of the normally picturesque Australian area have emerged, alleging children born from generations of incest, unwashed and with physical deformities, lived together in a cult with others.
They were found living on a remote farm in a malnourished state in a community of 40, barely able to speak and without running water and electricity for most of their lives.
The 12 children, aged between five and 16, were permanently removed by the NSW Children's Court in September this year, despite knowing of the squalid conditions since last year.
In a rare move, the court published its decision as it set new grounds for when children could be permanently removed.
For the first time, shocking new details have revealed how the case of the Colt family (court-appointed name to protect identification of minors) is among the worst reports of incest ever made public in Australia.
The victims told police of the sexual abuse they experienced, allegedly mostly at the hands of their siblings and cousins.
Other victims couldn't even share their experiences because they were so incapable of intelligible speech.
Reports suggest brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts, had sex with each other over four generations. They then raised children who grew up to become intimate with each other and conceive more inbred children in the small community.
Authorities said that some of the children were unable to read or write, wash their own hair, use a toothbrush, bathe themselves or use toilet paper. Nearly all of the children suffered from fungal infections on their feet.
Some of the children even had oddly-formed body features, a result of identical gene patterns from both of the children's parents.
While police and welfare officers lamented on the deprivation and cognitive impairment of the Colt children, they hadn't initially realised these effects stemmed from intimate familial relations between the group. Reports suggest the Colt family emerged progressed from a set of great-great grandparents who were brother and sister.
Even the children were sexually involved with each other.
Harrowing accounts of life
Bobby Colt, the 15-year-old son of Betty and Charlie, who are brother and sister, suffers from severe psoriasis, a walking impairment and is in need of urgent dental work.
According to the Daily Telegraph, his speech was not understandable, his learning ability was at kindergarten level and he continues to wet and soil the bed.
His 14-year-old brother, Billy, suffers an intellectual disability, cannot read or count properly and has hearing and sight issues. He is underweight and not growing properly, according to reports.
Other children within the group had extensively decayed teeth, misaligned eyesight, had dysmorphic limbs, nor did they have any understanding of showering or how to use a toilet.
Court documents are filled with harrowing accounts of incestuous underage sex.
Kimberly Colt, 13, reported she had sexual contact with her nine-year-old uncle, Dwayne, while her eight-year-old aunt, Carmen, watched on.
Ruth, 7, and Nadia, 9, were both involved in sexual contact with their brothers, Albert, Jed and Karl.
On at least on occasion, three brothers under the aged of 15 tied their eight-year-old sister and 13-year-old niece naked to a tree.
After the initial inspection, caseworkers finally removed the children on July 18, 2012.
Apprehended violence orders have been issued towards the alleged perpetrators to stop them from approaching the children.
One of the mothers will also face charges for allegedly trying to remove one of the children from care.
FACS defends incest case response
New South Wales Family and Community Services has defended its handling of allegations of incest and generational abuse within the Colt family, according to the ABC.
Chief Executive Maree Walk says it was an extremely complex case, particularly because the family had moved states several times.
"This family did not want to be found," she said.
"Some of the families that we work with are very open and seeking for help but that wasn't the circumstances here."
Ms Walk says the department has been working with interstate colleagues to try to link up and find all branches of the family.
"I think our workers have done incredibly tenacious and focused work," she said.
The Minister Pru Goward says the case is extremely complex and it took a while for the full picture to emerge.
"It was taken very seriously," she said.
"Sadly the initial reports had been about educational neglect and they are issues that the Education Department and Community Services dealt with as just a simple factor instead of recognising as we eventually did that it was a much more complex family situation."