Catholic school sex abuse victim tells how churchman dismissed his suffering and warned he would never win justice
DAVID Sharp was subjected to a catalogue of horrific abuse –
but was told by a representative of the Christian Brothers order that
he was wasting his time by trying to get justice.
David, 55, claimed yesterday he was “ambushed” by a “fixer” for the notorious Christian Brothers order.
The man had been sent by the order to get David to back down after he contacted then cardinal Keith O’Brien over his abuse.
And he told David, who was raped, beaten and tortured by sadistic
priest Brother Frank Ryan at residential St Ninian’s RC School in
Falkirk that he was wasting his time pursuing the complaint.
The school was run by the Brothers, who have been heavily implicated
in the abuse scandals which have shaken the Catholic Church across the
David said yesterday he was forced to confront the Brothers’
representative alone after he couldn’t get anyone to accompany him to
the meeting in 2011.
But he deliberately arranged the meeting in a public place – a Chinese restaurant – for safety.
David said: “The then cardinal Keith O’Brien got me in touch with the
order and a meeting was set up. The thought of meeting a Brother on my
own was terrifying which was why I arranged it in a public place. It was
like I was ambushed and I felt very threatened and intimidated the
whole time I was with him.
“I got the impression he was their fixer. He asked me what I was
hoping to achieve by bringing the past up and I told him I wanted
answers to why these things happened.
“He looked me in the eyes and told me I was wasting my time because
there was no way I would win and if I wanted to do anything I would have
to go through their lawyers.
“I made a conscious decision then that I would not give up my fight.”
We told yesterday how David suffered years of torture and rapes by Ryan, who has since died.
Ryan would wake him most nights with a hand over his mouth, usher him
to a private room or the school’s freezing showers and carry out the
David also described being flown to Ireland during holidays to be used as a sexual plaything by groups of unknown men.
Now, with the support of MSP Graeme Pearson, he is demanding a full
national inquiry into all institutional abuse across Scotland and wants
the government to waive the three-year time bar on civil cases to allow
victims like him to have their voices heard in court.
He has also written an open letter to Roseanna Cunningham, Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs.
In the letter, extracts of which are reproduced below, he points out
to Cunningham that many countries have opened inquiries to bring justice
and reparation to victims of institutional abuse.
He writes: “Scotland stands alone in its defiance not to show any kind of support for its victims.
“Like so many other people, I need to know why this was allowed to
happen to me and so many other children for so long and what can be done
“The state has a responsibility to ensure human rights are respected.
This includes upholding the rights of access to justice, effective
remedies and reparation for victims and survivors of historical child
abuse, and the rights of other affected.
“We cannot stop our search for answers and justice and we cannot and will not go away.”
David is organising a March For Justice to highlight the abuse. He is
hoping to gather a large group of supporters to walk from the Scottish
Borders to Holyrood.
Last night, Helen Holland of INCAS – In Care Abuse Survivors – said:
“Unfortunately, David’s account comes as no surprise to us as we have
heard similar accounts over the last 14 years.
“The Government hide behind the time bar as a means of not facing up
to their own part in denying the level of care they should have given to
the children placed in institutions throughout Scotland.
“Instead, children were systematically abused, tortured, raped and
used as a means of child labour for those people financially rewarded
for the number of children in their “care”.
“So many children were lied to by the people whose care they were entrusted to and continue to search for the truth.
“We sought a public inquiry as this would mean no one could hide
under the robe of respectability or position. We, like David, will not
be silenced into submission the way we were silenced as children.”
Brother Edmund Garvey of the Christian Brothers said: “I completely
regret, and am appalled by the allegations made by Mr. Sharp.
“I will take an immediate and personal interest in his case, along with the members of my staff.”
This week, the Catholic Church revealed that Thomas Mullen, the priest at Our Lady of Lourdes in Dunfermline, had been sacked.
The move came despite prosecutors deciding not to proceed with
allegations that he abused a boy from the age of nine more than 20 years
“I need to know why abuse was so easy’: David’s letter to Roseanna Cunningham
“I need to know why it was so easy for these people who abused me for
so long and how they were allowed to put me in a plane on more than one
occasion and take me over to Ireland where I was locked in a room with
up to five men and subject to unspeakable horrors. Let me tell you Mrs
Cunningham that no amount of child trauma therapy or counselling can
ever take away the affect that has had on my whole life and every
relationship I have ever had.
“Almost four years ago I contacted the police again because I finally
found the courage to approach the religious group who did those awful
things to me. I contacted the then Cardinal Keith O’Brien who got me in
touch with the order and a meeting was set up and this man asked me what
I was hoping to achieve by bringing the past up and I told him I wanted
answers to why these things happened and he looked me in the eyes and
told me that I was wasting my time pursuing my case because there was no
way I would win. I made a conscious decision then that I would not give
up my fight.
“Two years ago I contacted the police again to tell them that I
wanted to talk about something I had been carrying around with me for
over forty years. I told them that when I was in the home we were all in
dormitories and each night we would be in our beds waiting to see who
would be picked that night to go to be abused.
“In the bed next to me was a boy who went through similar things that
I did and one day he allegedly committed suicide. Shortly after I was
taken down to the cellar shower room and I was hanged with a belt from a
shower with my hands tied behind me and told that if I did not do what
this man told me the same thing would happen to me”.
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