Police Sex Abuse Handling Questioned

By Ben Hendry
Press and Journal
August 12, 2015

A child safety campaigner is seeking an urgent meeting with Police Scotland Chief Constable Sir Stephen House as part of an inquiry into allegations of sex abuse at a Moray monastery.

Andi Lavery claims he was treated dismby a call handler when he attempted to report the accusations of two men who claim they were assaulted at Pluscarden Abbey.

Police last night insisted they would “listen and investigate” whenever allegations of child abuse were brought to their attention.

However, Mr Lavery, who heads the White Flowers Alba support group, said the response he received could deter others from reporting abuse.

And he is demanding answers from the country’s top police officer in order to reassure victims that their complaints will be treated seriously and with sensitivity.

“Call centre staff obviously have protocol to follow – but this is different from reporting a missing cat or stolen bike,” he said.

“The police were a nightmare to deal with, I was shown no basic humanity.”

Police last week launched a probe into the alleged incidents, which are said to have taken place at Pluscarden in the 1960s and 1980s.

Last night Mr Lavery confirmed a third potential victim had contacted him regarding an instance of abuse in the 1970s – but that he had yet to bring the matter to the authorities.

However, the charity leader – who was a victim of at the Fort Augustus Roman Catholic boarding school in the Highlands as a boy – said he ran into problems when attempting to highlight issues at Pluscarden to the police.

He said: “When I called I asked to be put through to the new child abuse unit, which was established three months ago, as I was unwilling to detail sexual assaults with someone in a call centre.

“But I was pressed to give the details of the complainants – including their names.

“I offered my name and said I would liaise with the men involved, but the woman started shouting at me and it went south from there.”

He added: “I’d like to meet Sir Stephen House because what’s happening now isn’t working.

“The police need to develop a new way of handling sensitive inquiries like this – they should not be our enemy.”

Last night a police spokesman stressed the force’s commitment to “thoroughly investigating” any claims of child abuse, and said victims could contact them “knowing that we will listen and we will investigate”.

The Roman Catholic Church has faced a series of abuse allegations in the north and north-east in recent years.

Last month retired priest Colman McGrath, 76, was found guilty of abusing three teenage boys in the 1970s and 1980s at Blairs College junior seminary in Aberdeenshire.

In June it emerged that nine men had been reported to the procurator fiscal in connection with alleged abuse at Fort Augustus.

Brother Michael De Klerk of Pluscarden Abbey and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Aberdeen said they would co-operate with the police in their investigations.








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