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11-ABUSE

Church-commissioned study of historical abuse reports released

A statistical review has found there were 379 cases or reports of abuse allegations made against priests, Religious and other Church figures in Scotland between 1943 and 2005.

The study was commissioned by the Scottish bishops ­following the publication of the McLellan Commission report into safeguarding in 2015. It looked at records of abuse allegations held by Scottish dioceses and religious orders.

The study, by Dr Ben Torsney of the University of Glasgow, found there were 59 cases related to diocesan clergy. An estimated 2,064 priests served in Scotland during the period. 257 cases concern the Daughters of Charity, who ran the Smyllum Park orphanage that has been at the centre of recent testimony to the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry in Edinburgh. The nun in charge of the Catholic order offered her ‘most sincere apologies’ in January after hearing horrifying testimony.

47 other cases mentioned in the report concerned religious brothers, nine related to priests of religious orders, one to a church volunteer, one to a permanent deacon, and five did not identify an alleged perpetrator.

108 of the allegations were of sexual abuse, including 55 of the 59 allegations against diocesan priests. 265 were of physical abuse, one of verbal abuse; and five were of emotional.

Allegations reached a peak in 1953 with 124 reports, and then began to fall with no more than five a year between 1990 and 2005.

34 of the allegations were against Marist Brothers, 28 against other religious orders, 20 against clergy of St Andrews & Edinburgh Archdiocese, 16 against Glasgow Archdiocese, 10 against Motherwell Diocese, and five, four, three and two against Galloway, Argyll and the Isles, Paisley and Dunkeld respectively. There were no cases in Aberdeen Diocese.

The document’s introduction says a ‘comprehensive review of safeguarding procedures’ is nearing completion.

“Each bishop instructed his diocesan and safeguarding offices to provide all the requisite information held by each diocese for that period,” it reads. “Similarly, religious orders and congregations active in Scotland during the period of the review were asked to submit all the relevant data they held.

“It is hoped that the publication of this review demonstrates the Bishops’ ongoing commitment to openness and transparency. It also provides an opportunity for the Church to repeat and renew apologies made to those who have suffered any form of abuse.”

The Church also stressed that the report is not an ‘infallible assessment’ of abuse allegations, and said it is possible abuse has taken place but has not been reported or recorded.

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