Sexual abuse “was just part of life” at Catholic boarding school

Sexual abuse “was just part of life” at Catholic boarding school

The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (PA)

The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (PA)

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An Irvine pupil says sexual abuse was “just part of life” at a North Ayrshire Catholic boarding school.

The former Royal Marine, who can only be named as John, told how he was repeatedly sexually abused, beaten and shown pornography and horror movies from age eight.
He told the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry how his family came from the Irvine area and attended St Columba’s in Largs aged seven in 1978 while his father was a serving soldier.
John said: “Sexual abuse was something that was just part of life at school.”

He said that the man had groomed him with “fizzy drinks” and a CB radio he allowed children to use.
He said that on one occasion, the man showed him a pornographic magazine.
John said: “He said ‘do you know what this is – these are photos of naked women’. He said ‘it’s not weird’.”
He added, on another occasion the man showed the young children so called video nasties – violent horror movies.
He added: “It was stuff like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre – it was really brutal stuff. Stuff you wouldn’t let kids watch.

“He was on a sofa and he had his arm around a boy. Looking back on it – it was very odd. We were scared. We used to huddle up together.”
John also said he was physically abused by the brother. He said that on occasion he was play fighting with the brother and he hit him.
He said that his abuser lost his temper and pulled him into a place called the “punishment room.”
John added: “He was slapping me so hard I couldn’t breathe.”
John also said he was beaten by another brother because he refused to eat his cornflakes after spotting a daddy long legs sitting in them.
He added: “It was making me sick. He told me to eat it. I said I didn’t want to eat it. I got a clip on the head.”
John also told the inquiry how he boarded at St Columba’s. He said he awoke one evening to find the brother who sexually abused him sprinkling water on him.

He added: “I woke up to find something like cold water on my groin area. I could see the back of him running out back to his room.
“He had thrown water over me. I started making noise. The boys beside me woke up – they said ‘you’ve wet the bed’.
“He came in to see what the commotion was all about. He said ‘what’s going on?’ I said to him ‘you’ve thrown water over me’.
“He said ‘no I didn’t’. He then took me back into his room and I had to sleep there – I had to take my clothes off.”
He also told the inquiry about an incident which took place involving Aldo Moroni, a seven-year-old boy who died at the school in 1980 after allegedly being beaten by a staff member.
John said that days before, they had heard him screaming upstairs from where they were standing.
He added: “The boy was screaming upstairs – like he was in a lot of pain. A couple of us started to go upstairs – somebody at the top of the stairs told us to get back down.
“An adult then came along and told us to get back to our dormitory. You could still hear the boy screaming in pain – then the next thing was he wasn’t there.
“Within a number of days we were told he was dead.”
John also said the religious brother forced him and another boy to perform sex acts on each other, before they were then forced to perform more sex acts on him.
He said the brother ordered the two boys not to tell anybody about the abuse.
He added: “We would get treats like fizzy drinks. We were told not to say anything.
“We were told that if we said anything then we would get none of that.”
The inquiry continues today (Tuesday).

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