NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Nun admits mistreating children in orphanages

Nazareth House statue Image copyright Not Specified

A nun has admitted she mistreated children in her care while working at two orphanages.

The 77-year-old said youngsters at Nazareth House in Aberdeen would be smacked or hit with a hairbrush while she was there between 1963 and 1973.

She told the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry that both she and the children were frightened of another nun.

She accepted that some children in her care in Aberdeen and at an orphanage in Midlothian were badly treated.

In a statement read out at the inquiry she acknowledged some children "were mistreated when they were in my care" at Nazareth House in Aberdeen and Nazareth House in Lasswade.

Colin MacAulay QC, senior counsel to the inquiry, asked the nun - who cannot be identified for legal reasons - how those being deemed to be naughty would be punished.

The witness said: "They might get a smack. Probably on the legs or the bottom."

She said it was another nun who was in charge of dealing with children who wet the bed.

She said: "The children used to say they put the sheets on them but I never saw that.

'Wasn't nice'

"If it was one of sister's punishments, I never intervened.

"It was nasty, I thought it wasn't nice."

Mr MacAulay then asked her if she would describe the treatment as cruel.

She said: "I would now."

Sister Bridget Cunningham, who waived her anonymity, also spoke at the inquiry and said the children at Nazareth House in Aberdeen were not "the type that would want you to be hugging (them)".

She added: "They were quite aloof and they had their own problems."

The 76-year-old was at the orphanage between 1963 and 1964.

She said she would have reported any humiliation or beatings for wetting the bed.

She added: "I never seen anything like that."

The inquiry, before Lady Smith, in Edinburgh continues.

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