Religious order receives more than 400 abuse complaints

 Hearing: Sister Anna Maria Doolan spoke at the inquiry.   

A religious order has received more than 400 allegations of abuse from former residents of its children’s homes in Scotland.
The Sisters of Nazareth also revealed 71 children were sent to the other side of the world, “to be cared for” in Australia.

Giving evidence to the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, the nuns have offered an unreserved apology to anyone abused in its Nazareth House homes in Aberdeen, Cardonald, Kilmarnock and Lasswade.

The order looked after nearly 15,000 children during the period being covered by the inquiry.

It is aware of 404 civil actions and complaints over alleged abuse within its homes.

In written submissions, the Sisters said that with hindsight, staffing levels had been too low and oversight unstructured.

Some of the nuns looking after children were young and inexperienced. Some did not have the “aptitude or affinity” for child care.

Giving evidence at the hearings in Edinburgh, Sister Anna Maria Doolan said: “I’m sure some of the sisters weren’t maybe suitable for looking after children… but they had a vow of obedience and they went where they were sent.

“They might have preferred to be looking after the elderly.”

Sister Anna Marie said they were not aware of abuse taking place until the first allegations emerged in the 1990s.

They now accepted “retrospectively” that the abuse had happened. She said the Sisters had looked after large numbers of “very poor children” who needed care.

In some cases a nun was looking after as many as 30 children.

She said: “With the benefit of hindsight maybe we shouldn’t have taken in so many children. They probably took in more than they could have cared for adequately.

“We acknowledge that looking back now, things weren’t right. There were poor practices and not enough people to look after the children.”

She added: “There were numerous positive experiences but we do acknowledge that some people did not have a positive experience.”

In 2000, a nun who worked at Nazareth House in Aberdeen and Lasswade in the 1960s and 1970s was convicted of four charges of cruelty against children in her care.

To the fury of some of her victims, Marie Docherty, known as Sister Alphonso, was admonished by the sheriff and walked free.


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  3. Nuns abused hundreds of children
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  5. Nazareth House, Midlothian  Report PDF
  6. Nazareth House, Aberdeen & Here
  7. Nazareth House Lasswade
  8. Nazareth House, Cardonald & Here
  9. Nazareth House, Kilmarnock

4 thoughts on “Religious order receives more than 400 abuse complaints

  1. Well, 400 witnesses ought to remove about about the veracity and truth of the matter. The sisters are guilty. A shame they will not receive their due punishment. Too many of them to admit it. Only 1 or 2 individuals are allowed as token criminals.

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