Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

'Whitewash' over Nazareth House children's home abuse

Child abuse inquiry
Image caption The man told the inquiry how the abuse started when he was seven

A man has told the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) the sexual abuse he suffered as a child in the 1960s was ''whitewashed and hidden".

He told the inquiry he was abused by priests, care assistants and older boys over two years when he stayed at Nazareth House in Lasswade, Midlothian.

The hearing heard that when he tried to report abuse he was beaten or told to "stop telling lies".

The man told the inquiry the abuse started when he was aged seven.

When describing the home he said: "If the devil had come and said 'I'm taking you away from this place', I would have gone with him just to get out of there."

The SCAI is looking into children's homes, no longer operating, which were run by the Catholic congregation the Sisters of Nazareth in Scotland.

'Ashamed and guilty'

Giving evidence, the man who cannot be identified, told how he was forced by teenage boys to "do things that I wouldn't want to do".

The witness also described being abused by different priests at different times, including during confessions, as well as by helpers at the home.

He said he did not witness other children being abused but said that did not mean it did not happen.

The man told the inquiry the abuse from the older boys made him feel "ashamed" and "guilty".

He described how he was rejected when he tried to make the nuns aware of what was going on.

He said: "When I did mention to nuns about things, they said 'that doesn't happen in here' and you'd get a beating for it and punished."

They wanted to "whitewash the walls" and hide the issue away, he said.

'Didn't know happiness'

The man also told how a priest, who did not abuse him, did not take him seriously when he tried to speak about the abuse.

He described how the nuns would say the beatings made him stop wanting to raise the issue with adults and that he would be "beaten, told to stop telling lies, being wicked".

The witness said: "I think it was just a case of having to accept it. There was nothing in my power that I could do to stop it.

"Everything just seems to have been whitewashed and hidden, and not allowed to come out into the open."

He told chairwoman Lady Smith he never spoke about the abuse until he discussed it with inquiry staff.

"Childhood is supposed to be a happy time but I didn't know happiness in my time at that place."

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