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  1. ITV Report

Review into shocking allegations care home gave girls 'cocktail of drugs' which led to birth defects

Twenty years on from allegations of horrific abuse at a Church of England care home, which include pumping children full of experimental drugs, an investigation is underway into exactly what happened there.

The church has launched a review into Kendall House, a care home in Kent, where a number of residents have so far come forward to claim they have had children with birth defects as a result.

Many of the women say they are suffering from serious health problems themselves after they were "constantly overdosed" with tranquilisers, antipsychotics and drugs used to treat conditions such as Parkinson's disease.

Mother-of-three Teresa Cooper is one such victim.

She was sent to Kendall House in 1981 aged 14 and told ITV News she had not even been there 24 hours before staff started administering her drugs.

I wasn't naughty. I hadn't done anything wrong and I couldn't understand why they were giving me all these drugs.

They were heavily medicating me every single day for almost three years. I don't think a day went past that I wasn't overdosed"

– Victim Teresa Cooper

Teresa said it started with Valium before moving on to sedatives and tranquillisers, which she would be pinned down by up to six staff and injected with if she refused to take.

She claims she suffered hallucinations, would constantly slur and began to self-harm as a result.

Her records show she was overmedicated more than 1,200 times.

Many of the women, including Teresa, say they were also sexually abused at the home, sometimes while they were unconscious from the drugs.

"I woke up to people abusing me more than once and I think it's possible I was abused by men from outside the home as well as staff," she said.

Teresa's three children were all born with health problems. Credit: Family handout

Teresa now has three children but claims the drugs she was given caused her eldest to be born with breathing difficulties, her youngest blind and her daughter with a cleft palate.

Other Kendall House girls say their children have been born with brain tumours, heart defects and learning disabilities.

Their own health has also been affected with early menopause and higher miscarriage or stillbirth rates being reported among them.

Now aged 47, Teresa is in poor health herself after being diagnosed with an auto-immune illness, a disorder in which the body attacks its own immune system.

She says many women who were at the home have similar conditions and one woman has been diagnosed with five auto-immune illnesses.

Another victim, Angela Goddard, said if she refused medication other girls at the home were made to hold her down while she was forcibly given an injection.

Now a mother-of-four, she says her health has deteriorated over the last five years and she is in constant pain.

Her daughter, who is in her early 20s, has early signs of arthritis which she believes is linked to the cocktail of drugs she was given and her other three children and her grandson are thought to suffer from types of autism.

If I'd had known, I would probably never have had kids. I would never have subjected my children to the life they have now"

– Victim Angela Goddard
Dr Marenthiran Perinpanayagam administered the medication. Credit: LWT

The doctor at the centre of the allegations is former Home Office psychotherapist Dr Marenthiran Perinpanayagam, who prescribed the medication.

Footage from a 1980 documentary about the care home shows interviews with girls who report feeling tired.

While it is said one girl, who was abandoned by her mother, had been given enough drugs to knock an adult out but her tolerance to them was so high it hardly affected her.

Dr Perinpanayagam has since died so cannot be held to account.

But victims like Teresa and Angela want other staff who are still alive, including those who stood by and let them be abused, brought to justice.

Kendall House in 1980. Credit: LWT

More than 20 women have since received financial compensation from the church over sexual abuse they suffered but there has been no public acknowledgement of the drugs which were allegedly forced on them or an apology.

Church of England Bishop of Rochester James Langstaff has launched an independent review into the claims, focusing particularly on the period between 1950 and 1986.

He said: "It is my hope that this review will be of help in pastoral and other ways to all those who have concerns about Kendall House, and will also make clear any outstanding lessons which the Church of England and others need to learn."

If anyone wishes to engage in the review they should contact kendallreview@rochester.anglican.org