Beds, Herts & Bucks

Abuse at St Francis Boys Home kept secret for 60 years

St Francis Boys Home
Image caption St Francis Boys Home in Shefford, Bedfordshire, closed in the 1970s

An ex-resident of a Catholic orphanage in Bedfordshire has spoken for the first time about being sexually abused by a priest 60 years ago.

A group of former residents of the St Francis Boys Home in Shefford are taking legal action against the Church.

Most allegations are against Father John Ryan who died in 2008, but the latest claim relates to another, also deceased priest and dates back to 1952.

The ex-resident only felt able to tell his family about the abuse this year.

'Ruined lives'

He told the BBC: "I was 10 years old when I went to the home. One day the priest said he wanted to see me in his room to make the bed.

"So I went up to the bed and he sexually abused me, and did this again and again over a period of months. It was pretty traumatic."

The former resident, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said he was "disgusted" the Church had not apologised to the children abused at the home and that he would be contacting the police and offering to take part in the group action.

"The Church needs to be made accountable to all the lives it has ruined," he said.

'Not proven'

A new investigation was started this year after allegations of sexual abuse in the 1950s and 1960s at the home run by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Northampton.

The man's brother, who also went to the home, said: "My brother was abused maybe 12 times. All he can remember is the priest's hairy chest, he then blanked out.

"I think the most important thing is that it comes out into the open, so people can see what really happened."

A spokesman for the Northampton Diocese of the Catholic Church, which ran the home, said it "deeply regrets" any hurt caused, but stressed the "claims are not proven".

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