Former child residents of the Haut de la Garenne on the Isle of Jersey in the English Channel say workers at the home subjected kids to abuse, torture and worse. David Brown of the Times of London has been on the scene as investigators dig up bones.
"It really is a real-life horror story," says Brown. "One hundred sixty former boys and girls have now come forward with absolutely horrific tales of what happened to them at Haut de la Garrene."
The gothic building was constructed in the 1850s as a home for boys. It operated as Haut de la Garrene from 1960 to 1986. Five years ago, the structure was converted to a youth hostel. According to Brown, the location is picturesque — and spooky.
"It's beautiful when it's sunny," says Brown, "but when it's dark and windy, you can almost hear the screams of the children who were abused there."
Thousands of children passed through the home during its 26 years of operation.
"The police are being clear that there were periods of times when children were treated as they should have been," says Brown. But the London journalist is still haunted by what he's heard while covering the story. The most haunting details?
Victims' descriptions of being "led away from their beds in middle night, taken down in the cellar to a large, concrete bath filled with cold water and abused by the people who should have been caring for them," says Brown.