Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry Finds Abuse in Catholic Homes

SCAI was established in October 2015 to investigate the historical abuse inflicted upon children living in care all over Scotland.

Children an orphanage in Scotland suffered sexual abuse and were regularly beaten with hairbrushes, crucifixes, and leather straps. The results of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) were damning. Smyllum Park orphanage was administered by nuns belonging to Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. The Catholic nuns also ran the orphanage in Bellevue House, Rutherglen.

The SCAI found that girls and boys housed in both Bellevue and Smyllum Park residential houses were systematically denied love, compassion, and dignity. Lady Smith, the chair of the investigative commission, said that for many children who stayed in Bellevue and Smyllum, the buildings were places of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse, coercive control, excessive discipline, fear, and threat. She added that for many children, physical beatings were part of everyday life. 

Police have arrested a number of former Smyllum Park staff. Most of those arrested were women, including nuns. They were slapped with abuse charges, and their specific cases were referred to a specialist unit at Crown Office, the prosecution service of Scotland. Lady Smith continues to investigate the matter and expects the investigation to run until the end of 2019. The investigation concentrated on the horrific accounts of torture meted out by staff to children at Smyllum Park. Until now, SCAI has heard testimonies from 54 witnesses and gathered 21 written statements.

Lady Smith upheld allegations received from a few residents that they were subjected to systematic abuse by priests, lay staff members, nuns, and even a trainee priest. Pedophiles took advantage of their distress and took a few children from Smyllum to yet another home located in Newcastle. The abuse was so systematic that a few children developed problematic sexual behavior. Things were so bad that one child by the name of Samuel Carr died after he contracted an E. Coli infection from a rat. He was only six years old. Carr was malnourished and had received a severe beating from a nun a few minutes prior to his death.

SCAI was established in October 2015 to investigate the historical abuse inflicted upon children living in care all over Scotland. It is presently in the process of investigating sexual and physical abuse at 86 institutions, including leading boarding schools and former children's' homes. The Scottish Government, has said that investigators could take as long as they like when it comes to this investigation.

Scotland isn’t the only country uncovering decades of abuse in orphanages at the hands of Catholic nuns. A report from BuzzFeed News in August detailed similar abuses at an orphanage in Burlington, Vermont.

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