Schoolboys at a State-run country hostel were forced to strip to their underwear and wrestle a half-naked male warden, an inquiry into child sex abuse allegations at country hostels has been told.

On the first day of public hearings into allegations of sex abuse at St Christopher’s Hostel in Northam, counsel assisting Philip Urquhart said there would be evidence of abuse male boarders were subjected to in the 1960s and 70s by warden Roy Wenlock.

Mr Wenlock, who worked as the hostel warden from 1963 to 1977, was described as having many similarities to former Katanning hostel warden and serial paedophile Dennis John McKenna.

Mr Wenlock died in 2007 aged 75.

For the past six months, St Andrew’s in Katanning has been the focus of a Government-ordered inquiry into sex abuse but the inquiry has widened its focus to hostels in Northam, Bunbury and South Hedland.

Dennis McKenna and his brother Neil Vincent McKenna, also a supervisor at the Katanning hostel, are serving jail terms for abusing children during their time at Katanning.

Mr Urquhart told the inquiry this morning of allegations that Mr Wenlock would invite boys to his flat at the Northam hostel and order them to strip to their underwear.

Mr Wenlock would then also strip to his underwear and ‘wrestle’ the boys and create contact between his groin area and the boys’ buttocks to simulate sexual intercourse, Mr Urquhart said.

“Though these activities by the warden were common knowledge by the boys who resided there…it was not brought to the attention of anyone in authority until 1975,” Mr Urquhart said.

This morning a WA police officer told the inquiry he was forced to take part in the semi-naked wrestling sessions with the warden for the five years he boarded at the hostel.

“There was some real wrestling. Next thing Wenlock was on his back asking us to squeeze under his arms,” the man said.

“(You would be) straddled across him and you’re leaning forward, gripping those two muscles on him and he would try to buck you off.

“He was thrusting his penis between my buttocks. We’d both (be) wearing underwear.

“Without a doubt (I could feel it) it was only later on I realised he was orgasming.”

The officer said Wenlock invited dozens of boys to his flat to wrestle and it was common knowledge between boarders what was going on.

“If he didn’t orgasm we would get ushered out and he would masturbate.”

Mr Wenlock was forced to resign as warden in December 1977 after several boys came forward with allegations of abuse. He went on to work for the West Australian Cricket Association as a development officer.

Supreme Court Justice Peter Blaxell will hear allegations related to the Northam hostel for the next three days.

The inquiry is trying to determine how boarders were sexually abused for so long despite evidence of complaints about how the hostels were being run.

This week counsel assisting the inquiry said it was not too late for people to come forward with information about any of the Country High School Hostels Authority run facilities.

An inquiry hotline - 1800 227 792 - has been set up for people to provide information.

Mr Blaxell has until July 18 to report his findings to State Government.

The West Australian

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