Scotland

Young girl 'raped by priest' and 'sexually abused by nun'

Nazareth House statue Image copyright Not Specified
Image caption Abuse is alleged to have taken place at Nazareth House

A former resident at a Catholic children's home has told an inquiry that she was raped by a priest.

Helen Holland said she was eight years old when the priest and a nun began to sexually abuse her at Nazareth House in Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire.

She told the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry the nun held her down during the abuse.

Ms Holland, who has waived her right to anonymity, said she suffered years of physical and emotional cruelty.

She lived at the children's home in the 1960s and 1970s.

She said the nun repeatedly told her "the devil was inside her".

'Get the devil out'

Speaking at the abuse hearing on Wednesday, the 59-year-old said: "The nun took me into her cell and told me to take my clothes off."

Ms Holland said she was then assaulted with a "hand brush".

She said: "She took the hand brush ... and asked if I could feel the devil. That was the start."

Ms Holland said she told a priest in confession what had happened and that she "had to get the devil out".

The inquiry heard he then "marched" her back to the orphanage, describing her as the "most wicked child he had ever met".

She said the nun joined them and they went into a room.

Image copyright Scottish government
Image caption Lady Smith is leading the inquiry

Ms Holland said: "He told her what I'd said. They looked at each other, the way people do when they have got an understanding but without language.

"I ended up over what looks like a boardroom table with (the priest) raping me.

"She was holding my hands across the table. I was told I was a brazen hussy and I must learn to keep my mouth shut."

The inquiry heard the witness was sexually abused over a four-year period and that she was raped by several men.

She said she knew at least one of them was a priest.

The inquiry heard children were subjected to vicious attacks by the nun, who punched, kicked and used a bamboo cane known as a "switch" because of the noise it made.

'Case not pursued'

The inquiry heard she reported the hand brush attack to social services when she was a child, but nothing was done.

As an adult, she said she went to the procurator fiscal but was told the case would not be pursued because the nun was "too old and too infirm", which the witness said she had challenged.

Ms Holland is now chairwoman of In-Care Abuse Survivors group, which campaigns for justice for those affected by such issues.

The witness, who took her therapy dogs Pippa and Willow with her to the inquiry, called for the care system to be "stripped back" and for the Scottish government to take note of the inquiry's advice.

The inquiry before Lady Smith in Edinburgh continues.

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