A piece by Hilary Duncanson in today’s Times:
Police have received 308 complaints about alleged abuses at children’s homes run by a Catholic order, a hearing has been told.
The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry was told that officers had received complaints about 194 people associated with institutions run by the Sisters of Nazareth over 50 years.
The inquiry is hearing evidence about homes in Aberdeen, Cardonald in Glasgow, Lasswade in Edinburgh and Kilmarnock, all of which ceased operating as homes in the 1980s.
In opening remarks at the hearing in Edinburgh, Laura-Anne van der Westhuizen, representing Police Scotland, told the chairwoman, Lady Smith, that officers had been working to identify, retrieve, assess and catalogue all of the public protection investigation files it holds that are relevant to the inquiry’s terms of reference. She said 220,000 files have been reviewed, with 58 files concerning the Sisters of Nazareth given to the inquiry.
A female witness in her seventies told the inquiry how nuns in Aberdeen would nip her skin, beat the children and make them play in the playground with no shoes on. “We were never loved, ever, by any of them,” she said.
The woman, who cannot be identified, was at the home in the 1940s and 1950s. She did not know her surname until she was 12.
She said that one nun, whom she called a “witch” in a written statement, would make children get down on their knees if she caught them fighting and bang their heads together.
The witness admitted to hitting other girls “because it happened to us”. She added: “We were as bad to the little ones as the nuns were to us.”
The inquiry continues.
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