Boy abused by two religious brothers as third looked on, inquiry told

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Lady Smith chairs the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (Nick Mailer/PA)

A boy was sexually abused by two religious brothers at a children’s home as a third looked on, an inquiry has been told.

The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) heard the attack at St Ninian’s in Fife happened shortly after the youngster was caught “being nosy” in the chapel.

The victim, now a man in his 50s, said he was terrified by the attack in the late 1970s and ran away from the home.

The man, who also suffered sexual abuse at other care institutions, told how he later became dependent on class A drugs and “faded away” for a time in adulthood.

The latest phase of the inquiry sitting in Edinburgh is currently examining St Ninian’s, a residential school in Falkland which was run by the religious order the Congregation of Christian Brothers.

The witness, known to the inquiry as Alec, suffered the abuse at St Ninian’s before he became a teenager, the hearing was told.

He described an occasion when he was looking around the chapel and helped himself to some bread and wine, when two religious brothers came in, started shouting and chased him around the room.

He was later sick and went to his bed but, when half asleep, was disturbed by one of the brothers, the inquiry heard.

The man said: “He came into the room and pulled back the blanket and took me by my wrist. He said, ‘Come with me’.”

He described how the brother took him to his bedroom and began abusing him, while telling him he was “maladjusted” and “cheeky”.

“It was hard to break free from him. I was not pinned down but it was hard for me to move,” the witness said.

He said a second religious brother then entered the room and also sexually abused him.

The witness described how he became aware of a third brother in the room, who was watching and performing a sex act.

The attack ended when he was let out of the room.

“It was dark. I was terrified. I absconded the next day,” he said.

The man earlier told how he was regularly belted by one of the religious brothers to publicly embarrass him in front of the other residents.

The brothers would also get involved in the showering routine, pouring shampoo on the children and touching them, the inquiry heard.

“My reaction was ‘I need to get away from here’,” the witness said.

The inquiry heard he was ultimately moved elsewhere after telling police and other officials there were paedophiles at the home, and that he would continue to abscond.

The SCAI heard how the man went on to have a successful career, but later became dependent on cocaine, crack and heroin.

“I just slowly faded away,” said the witness, who has since been diagnosed with depression and mental health and childhood abuse issues.

The inquiry heard how the man has now given evidence at three criminal trials, one linked to St Ninian’s.

The hearing, before Lady Smith, continues.

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