Victims of child abuse at an Aberdeen orphanage have been praised for their courage in coming forward to tell an inquiry of their ordeals.
As reported in later editions of yesterday’s Evening Express, the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry released its findings into homes operated by the Sisters of Nazareth (SoN) – including one in Aberdeen – following hundreds of reports of abuse between 1933 and 1984.
Homes in Cardonald, Lasswade and Kilmarnock were also investigated.
SoN said it was “deeply ashamed” that children had suffered abuse in homes it ran and apologised for having “failed them”.
The inquiry, chaired by Lady Smith, found that children did suffer sexual abuse at the Nazareth House children’s home in the city.
The report states: “I find that children in each of the Nazareth Houses were sexually abused. There was evidence supporting the examples given in respect of each of the houses.
“At Aberdeen a number of children were sexually abused.”
Among the examples given in the findings relating to the Aberdeen home was that of a boy who was subjected to two years of abuse in which he was tied, gagged and “caressed” by a caretaker, and then physically assaulted.
The findings also refer to a van driver employed to drive the nuns who “sexually interfered with children”.
As well as sexual abuse, children were also struck with objects including belts, canes and wooden crucifixes. Some had carbolic soap stuffed in their mouths and had their heads banged together, the inquiry heard.
Those who wet their beds were subjected to punishments such as wearing their soiled sheets.
A statement from the Sisters of Nazareth (SoN) said: “We are grateful to Lady Smith for her report and the care she has taken to consider all the evidence she heard.
“Her report details the suffering and abuse endured by some of the children in our homes and for that we are deeply ashamed.
“As we have said before, we apologise wholeheartedly and unreservedly to those who suffered any form of mistreatment.
“We want to pay tribute to the courage of those survivors who testified to the inquiry.
“From listening to their testimonies and reading the report, we know how deeply the experiences of those years in care have affected their lives.
“We realise that no apology can do justice to their childhood experience or heal these lasting memories and we are profoundly sorry for having failed them at the time.”
A spokeswoman for children’s charity NSPCC said: “The survivors of this abuse were in places where they should have felt safe but were instead subjected to horrific physical assaults and terror.
“We know that abuse of this nature can have catastrophic and have lifelong results.
“The victims who have come forward and recounted their ordeals to the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry have therefore shown immense courage and it is now vitally important they receive the help and support they deserve.”
The report also included reflections from those who spent time in the home.
One man, now in his 50s, said: “Aberdeen City Council Social Work Department also need to look at the past and accept some level of responsibility and failings on their part as they had a duty of care to those they placed in care.”
A council spokesman said: “We recognise it is important for all public bodies to ensure that victims have the opportunity to express themselves, are listened to and more importantly, believed.
“ACC has acted responsibly and has been open and transparent throughout in its work in support of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry and helping to support victims and witnesses through the process.
“Communications have been in place to inform people how to contact and participate in the inquiry.
2Communications have also been in place to advise and guide victims and survivors of neglect and abuse to support services, and we have been sensitive to the needs of victims throughout in ensuring they have been supported through what we appreciate has been a traumatic process for many.”