A troubled youth who was sent to the school told his mother he had been raped in a public toilet by two men, one of whom had ‘white hair’. She suspected it was Savile, who was known to be a regular visitor to Fort Augustus Abbey in the Highlands
By Lucy Ashton
The Scottish Daily Express is reporting today that a mother told the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry chaired by Lady Smith of her suspicions that her late son may have been raped by the notorious sexual predator Jimmy Savile.
The woman – identified as Liz – gave a statement about her son’s traumatic experiences at the infamous Fort Augustus Abbey Catholic boarding school in the Highlands. It was described as a “haven for paedophiles” where “sadistic” monks physically and sexually abused pupils by the inquiry chair, Lady Smith.
A number of people from comfortably off local families in West Dunbartonshire were educated at the school.
Savile was known to be a frequent visitor to the school from the early 1970s until it was closed in the early 1990s, often arriving in his Rolls-Royce. It was located at the southern end of Loch Ness, less than an hour’s drive from his remote mountain cottage in Glen Coe.
However, the disturbing testimony from Liz has never been made public before and only came to light as part of a special Scottish Daily Express investigation into Savile’s activities in Scotland ahead of a new BBC drama about the fiend.
Liz described how her son, who died in 2009 at the age of 30, was first placed in care at Liff House School near Dundee before being transferred to Fort Augustus in 1990. She described it as “a bit prison like” and said “parents weren’t encouraged to visit”.
She added: “On face value the monks were kind, but they were all powerful. They were left on their own to get on with it. The school was frequently visited by Jimmy Savile.”
The mother said her son settled in well at first before “things fell off the edge of a cliff” after the Easter holidays in 1991. He ran away from the family home rather than go back to Fort Augustus and later bolted from the car into the darkness at Crianlarich.
Liz took him home, where he would “scrub his skin raw” in the bathroom and his social worker suggested he may have been sexually abused. The 13-year-old eventually agreed to return to the school for one more term.
Years later, in 2004 or 2005, he told his mother that he had been “raped in the school showers and then dragged out and put in a boat onto Loch Ness in the middle of the night”. He also told her that he had found a hiding place under the stage but when the monks discovered him he was chained to a hot water pipe as punishment.
After returning home in 1991, the troubled youth was again taken into care at Balnacraig School in Perth. His mother said: “At Balnacraig he told me that he had been raped by two men at Fort Augustus… He said that one man had black hair and one had white hair. I have always wondered if this was Jimmy Savile and a very close cardinal or bishop friend of his.
“He said that this had taken place in the public toilets and that they put toilet paper in his mouth so he wouldn’t scream. I just cuddled him and told him that I loved him and that I would never stop loving him.”
After a difficult life, Liz’s son passed away in London in 2009. She said: “In my mind the monks took my son and you never get over it and that’s hard. You expect to lose your parents, you expect to lose your partner but you never expect to lose your child. I blame myself for the terror and horror he lived through.”
When she gave evidence in person at the inquiry on July 26, 2019, Liz repeated many of the same details contained in her written evidence. However, she did not use Savile’s name in this public forum and she was not asked about the TV presenter, despite naming him in her witness statement signed on April 15, 2019.
She told judge Lady Smith, pictured left, the rape took place in the public toilets in Fort Augustus when he was returning to the school after visiting a friend in the village. Liz said: “He said it was a man with jet-black hair and white hair, two men.”
She said the allegations had not been reported to the police, explaining: “Not at that stage, no. It just didn’t cross my mind.” However, she said her son did report the attack to the police when he was 16 and living in Falkirk, having been encouraged to do so by his social worker.
Liz said she did not know about this at the time and only found out years later. She said her son told her the police report had been “thrown out because there was a statute of limitation on it and he was too late”.
‘Children were cruelly beaten by sadistic monks’
This section of the long-running public inquiry also looked at Carlekemp Priory School in North Berwick, which was associated with Fort Augustus and run by Benedictine monks.
In her report of August 2021, Lady Smith said: “Children were sexually abused at both schools. A number of monks were serial sexual predators and, because of the movement of monks between Fort Augustus and Carlekemp, they were able to target victims at both schools.
“Children were cruelly beaten by sadistic monks at both schools, and some beatings had sexual overtones. Children were humiliated and punished inappropriately and excessively. Some children complained to monks in positions of responsibility about being abused. They received either non-existent or inadequate responses.”