Woman who says Dumbarton priest raped her 30 or 40 times is claiming damages from Catholic Church
A disgraced Catholic priest has been accused of raping a schoolgirl up to 40 times over a two-year period, Lucy Adams of BBC Scotland is reporting tonight.
Father Gerry Nugent, pictured left, who was an assistant priest at St Peter’s Church in Bellsmyre, Dumbarton, was shamed in 2007 when he admitted to a murder trial he had sex with Polish student Angelika Kluk, a victim of serial killer Peter Tobin. Police Scotland have now confirmed they are investigating historical allegations of child sexual abuse against the priest, who died in 2010. The Catholic Church said it was “truly sorry” for what happened decades ago. The Church said it now had a “dramatically different awareness of child protection issues”.
It added that Fr Nugent was “removed from parish ministry” as soon as the extent of his inappropriate sexual behaviour with adults became apparent in 2007 and that “allegations relating to minors only emerged after his removal”.
The BBC has spoken to a 51-year-old woman, who we are calling Teresa, who said that Fr Nugent raped her repeatedly when she was 13.
She is seeking damages from the Catholic Church.
Teresa said Fr Nugent had been close to her grandmother, with whom she lived in the west end of Glasgow.
She said: “He was a very dear friend to gran and because I loved her so much and I could see their relationship made her happy I always felt happy, confident, comfortable in his presence.”
But she went on to describe a sinister pattern of behaviour by Fr Nugent which progressed from holding her hand to stroking her.
Teresa added: “Eventually, around the time of my 13th birthday, he raped me and continued to do so for two years on a regular basis.
“I loved him very much so I thought that this behaviour was normal in families because that is what he told me.”
St Peter’s Church and Presbytery at the heart of Bellsmyre in Dumbarton.
Teresa claimed Fr Nugent, who was often under the influence of alcohol, first raped her in the flat where she lived with her grandmother.
She also claimed he would sexually assault her in the stairwell of the building.
Teresa said: “It happened in a motorway underpass on a couple of occasions and quite often it would happen when we were just walking down the street.
“He never seemed at all concerned that a priest would be a walking down the road while having his hand on the bottom of an obviously very young girl.”
Asked how many times it happened, Teresa replied: “Actual rape? I think somewhere in the region of 30 and 40 times in total.”
The mother-of-four claims the abuse stopped when she was 15 after her grandmother died from a massive brain haemorrhage.
Around this time, she discovered she was not Fr Nugent’s only alleged victim.
After Teresa confided in a friend, she told her: “I know. This is what he has been doing to me.”
These allegations are also being investigated by Police Scotland.
Both women are being represented by Thompsons Solicitors.
A Glasgow law firm is also thought to be speaking to a third victim.
Teresa has suffered anxiety and depression throughout her adult life and has undergone therapy.
Her relationship with her husband also broke down.
She said: “There hasn’t been a single aspect of my life that it hasn’t affected and I haven’t always been conscious of that.”
In 2015 she approached the Catholic Church about her experiences. Theresa said she met safeguarding staff at the Archdiocese of Glasgow and Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, pictured left, whom she thanked for his apology.
But she claimed “the shutters came down” after she threatened legal action.
Theresa believes there are more alleged victims of Fr Nugent and urged them to come forward.
She added: “These acts are historical but the effects are not historical. They are affecting people every single day.”
Fr Nugent hit the headlines in September 2006 after the mutilated body of 23-year-old Angelika Kluk was found under the floorboards of St Patrick’s Church in the Anderston area of Glasgow.
Serial killer Peter Tobin had been working there as a church handyman, under an assumed name.
Tobin was eventually convicted of the murder, but during the trial Fr Nugent admitted he was in a sexual relationship with Angelika.
The Dublin-born priest, who was forced to resign from his post, said he felt “shame” and “disgust” with himself and admitted he had abused the position of trust he was in.
The self-confessed alcoholic was also found guilty of contempt of court because he did not give straight answers in the witness box during the trial.
At the time, the Catholic Church issued an apology over the priest’s behaviour.
He died in January 2010, aged 66, after a suspected heart attack.
‘Sincere and heartfelt’
Last year a long-standing time bar which prevented victims of childhood abuse seeking civil legal action was lifted.
The Catholic Church confirmed it is aware of complaints against Fr Nugent dating back to the 1970s.
A church spokesman said: “Allegations have been made by women that they were sexually assaulted by the late Fr Gerry Nugent when they were children, some around 40 years ago.
“The crimes described in these allegations are appalling.
“The Church, its bishops, priests and people are truly sorry for what has happened.
“The Archbishop has met the survivor interviewed by the BBC and apologised in person and on behalf of the Church for what she has gone through.
“That apology is sincere and heartfelt and is extended to anyone who suffered at the hands of Fr Nugent or any other representative of the Church.”
Appeal for ‘victims’
The church confirmed no allegations of child abuse until after Fr Nugent was removed from his ministry.
In 1995 he was sent for “psychological assessment” and therapy following an anonymous allegation he engaged in “inappropriate sexual conduct with an adult”.
But the spokesman added: “The assessment did not flag any issues with his sexual conduct, but highlighted alcohol abuse as a cause for concern.
“It may be that no-one will ever know the full truth of all Fr Nugent’s wrongful conduct and criminal actions, but the Church remains ready and willing to co-operate with the police and statutory authorities to assist survivors.
“The Church offers ongoing counselling to those affected and will also co-operate fully should they engage legal representation to seek financial recompense.”
Teresa’s lawyer Alan Rodgers said: “What we really want to do is take her case forward and give other people the inspiration and courage to come forward if they have been through similar experiences so that we can also try to obtain answers for them.”