Cleric accused of abusing boys at Catholic boarding school slams 'lunacy' of system

Evidence given to the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry by former pupils include claims the man, now in his 60s, would try to touch boys inappropriately and beat their wrists with a belt. Picture: Stock photo posed by model
Evidence given to the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry by former pupils include claims the man, now in his 60s, would try to touch boys inappropriately and beat their wrists with a belt. Picture: Stock photo posed by model
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A cleric accused of abusing boys at a Catholic boarding school has said he has "no great respect for the system" when dealing with the evidence of alleged victims.

The witness, who cannot be named for legal reasons, worked at St Joseph's College in Dumfries during the 1970s.

Evidence given to the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry by former pupils include claims the man, now in his 60s, would try to touch boys inappropriately and beat their wrists with a belt.

He rejected all of the allegations made against him and described the approach to dealing with them as "lunacy".

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The witness said: "The political statements - 'come forward we will believe you' - I think should be altered to 'we will listen to you and investigate'.

READ MORE: Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry: 'Boy raped by monk who may have been his father'
"If people can make allegations and simply be believed, that's wrong."

It was not made clear by the witness which political statements he was referring to or who had made them.

His comments came after Ceit-Anna MacLeod, junior counsel to the inquiry, read out part of his statement in which he said he had "no great respect for the system, at the moment".

The witness added he did not want to imply the inquiry was acting in such a manner.

Ms MacLeod also read out accusations by former pupils that had been submitted through statements and oral accounts.

These included allegations the witness liked to wrestle boys while trying to touch them in the "wrong places" and that he would take children to his room.

It was also heard he was accused of forcing a youngster to stand in a washroom all night as a punishment before having to then go to school.

Ms MacLeod read another account that alleged a former pupil had his wrist beaten with a belt.

The witness denied all of the accusations made against him.

The inquiry is currently focusing on care given by the Marist religious order, of which the witness was part of.

He described his time working at St Joseph's and St Columba's boarding school in Largs, North Ayrshire, as enjoyable.

It was heard he never witnessed anything "inappropriate" but corporal punishment may have been administered.

Both schools were operated by the religious order.

The inquiry, before judge Lady Smith in Edinburgh, continues.