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Police search home on British island at center of child abuse investigation
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    St. MARTIN, Jersey — Police on Wednesday broke into a bricked-up room in the cellar of a children’s home that is the focus of a child abuse investigation on this British island.
    Jersey deputy police chief Lenny Harper said a dog trained to search for human remains reacted strongly inside the room but there was no immediate indication why. Police have already found a child’s skull buried on the grounds of the former Haut de la Garenne home and fear they will find the bones of more children.
    At least 150 people have come forward to complain about physical, mental and sexual abuse they claim was committed at the home before it closed in 1986. Harper said police are investigating about 40 people suspected of various offenses.
    ‘‘It would appear as if the cellar is exactly as some of the witnesses ... and victims have described,’’ Harper said, adding that an initial inspection showed that there may be a second bricked-up room leading off this area.
    ‘‘We have statements of evidence from witnesses that offenses were committed in that locality but we have no idea of why (the rooms) may have been bricked-up,’’ he told reporters. ‘‘I think it is important to emphasize that we have no allegations whatsoever that anybody died or was murdered or was a victim of a homicide in these rooms.’’
    Harper said he did not believe the abuse at the home was carried out by an organized ring.
    ‘‘The abuse was spread over so many years and there are a succession of people coming through there in positions of responsibility ... but it was not a totally organized ring as the years went on,’’ he said.
    Police said breaching the wall was only the start of a long investigation, and a large amount of soil and rock would have to be removed.
    Jersey is one of the Channel Islands off the coast of France. It is not part of the United Kingdom but is a territory owned by the British monarchy.

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