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Friday, 08 June 2018

Nun tells inquiry she 'cared very much for children' and abuse allegations are lies

Written by Hilary Duncanson

A nun who worked at a children's home has told an inquiry she is sad that abuse allegations have been made against her and described the claims as lies.

The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) heard the woman, now in her 70s, maintains the claims are an "invention".

The probe heard how the witness worked at Nazareth House in Aberdeen (pictured) for several years in the 1970s.

The institution is one of four former children's homes run by the Catholic congregation the Sisters of Nazareth in Scotland which are being examined currently by the SCAI in Edinburgh.

The inquiry has previously been told of a string of alleged abuses at the institutions.

On Thursday, Colin MacAulay QC, senior counsel to the inquiry, referred to various allegations made by witnesses against the nun, or other nuns, at the Aberdeen home.

Among her responses, the woman told how she was not aware of children being punished for wetting the bed and said there was no bullying at the home.

She also denied putting children in isolation in darkened rooms and said she had never locked anyone in an on-site mortuary as a punishment.

Mr MacAulay put it to her: "Just generally, the beating of children, the humiliation of children with the bed-wetting practices we discussed, and emotional criticisms like saying 'you are worthless', force feeding and isolation practices such as locking in cupboards and so on - would you see these practices as being abusive to children in the time you were in the care system?"

"I did not hear any of them, I did not see any of them," she replied, adding: "If somebody did that to a child it would be abuse, yes."

The QC asked whether she could explain why "so many" former residents who were in care at Nazareth House have come forward with allegations.

The witness told him: "I don't know about that, why that is happening. The thing that makes me a bit sad is to think that children ... are making allegations against me.

"It makes me sad to think (about it) because I cared about those children very much and I thought they cared about me.

"We chatted, we went out together, played games, did various things, and years later they decide to make complaints. I don't understand it."

Mr MacAulay confirmed that her stance is that the allegations are "invention". "That is your position, these are lies?" he asked.

"Yes," she replied.

The inquiry, before Lady Smith, continues on Tuesday.

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