Abuse inquiry judge appeals to local pupils of posh schools to give evidence

By Michael Laffey

The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry has announced it is to investigate a number of residential care establishments, some of which were attended by boys from West Dunbartonshire, run by male religious orders.

The hearings, scheduled for next summer, will include evidence of abuse at the Fort Augustus Abbey School in the Highlands, which was revealed by a BBC Scotland investigation.

Since then, a former monk has been convicted of physical abuse. Two others are the subject of extradition proceedings.  Many more people alleged to have abused boys there are now dead.

The inquiry has been looking at residential care provided by female religious orders and is about to turn its attention to charities.

Smith Lady.jpg 2Its chairwoman, Lady Smith, pictured right, said an investigation into male religious orders will start next summer and has called for anyone affected to come forward.

The hearings will focus on the Order of Benedictines and their provision at the Fort Augustus Abbey School in the Highlands and Carlekemp School in North Berwick.

A report on the £35,000 a year Benedictine schools of Ampleforth and Downside issued last month found there had had been serial serious abuse in these establishments.

The hearings will also examine the Marist Brothers and their provision at St Joseph’s College, Dumfries, and also at St Columba’s College in Largs.

Finally, the Christian Brothers and their provision at St Ninian’s in Falkland, Fife, will be scrutinised.

Lady Smith said: “Investigations into establishments run by male religious orders and other preparatory work are well under way.

“We have been pleased with the response to date.

“We are now able to give details of the three male religious orders and their establishments we will have a particular focus on.

“Please would anyone who has any relevant information about any of these orders and schools contact the inquiry.”

The judge said those who come forward will be fully supported.

She added: “It does not matter whether you have already made a report to the police or to anyone else, and it does not matter whether or not you have been involved in any other investigation.

“You can still talk to us and we want to hear from you.

“I am well aware that it can be difficult and very emotional to talk about experiences in care and I want to take this opportunity to give an assurance that we have a dedicated witness support team here who will help and support anyone providing evidence to us.”

At a later stage, the inquiry will look separately into the provision of care by the De La Salle Brothers, who ran a number of institutions in Scotland.

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