Nuns arrested over alleged abuse at closed Smyllum orphanage

Smyllum Park, the site of the former orphanage in Lanark. Picture: Sarah PetersSmyllum Park, the site of the former orphanage in Lanark. Picture: Sarah Peters
Smyllum Park, the site of the former orphanage in Lanark. Picture: Sarah Peters
Elderly nuns are among those reported to prosecutors as part of an investigation into historical child abuse at a notorious former children's home.

Police Scotland said eleven women and one man, aged between 62 and 85, had been charged in relation to non-recent abuse linked to Smyllum orphanage in Lanark. A further four people were expected to be reported to the Crown Office yesterday.

The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry has heard allegations from former residents of Smyllum that children were beaten and force-fed, as well as humiliated for wetting the bed by being made to wear soiled sheets.

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Trainee priests and a man later convicted of sex offences against children were allowed unsupervised access to the children at the Lanark orphanage, which closed in 1981.

A spokeswoman for Police Scotland said: “Twelve people, eleven women and one man, ages ranging from 62 to 85 years, have been arrested and charged in connection with the non-recent abuse of children.

“All are subject of reports to Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal. A further four individuals will be reported (on Thursday). Enquiries are continuing, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

Earlier this year, the religious order which ran Smyllum expressed a “very deep sense of regret” for what happened at the orphanage.

Sister Ellen Flynn, head of the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul in the UK, said she was “deeply sorry and distressed” by the allegations she had heard during the course of the inquiry.

A spokeswoman for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) said it had instructed Police Scotland to carry out investigations into allegations of abuse at care institutions in Scotland.

She said: “As a result of those investigations COPFS received information from Police Scotland which was considered by our expert team, in consultation with Police Scotland, and it was determined that further investigation was required into allegations against a number of individuals relating to the Daughters of Charity.”

A spokesman for the Daughters of Charity said: “As core participants in the ongoing Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, we have always co-operated fully with the inquiry, and welcomed both the inquiry and the opportunity to participate fully in its investigations. During this period we have publicly urged anyone who believes they have been the victim of a crime to contact the police. We continue to offer our sincere and heartfelt apology to anyone who suffered any form of abuse while at our facilities.”