Christian Brothers abused children at Fife care home 'with impunity' inquiry concludes

By Allan Crow
Fife Today
February 17, 2021

St Ninian's School which closed in 1983

Christian Brothers who ran a residential care home in Fife abused children “with impunity” for decades, an inquiry has ruled.

St Ninian’s School in Falkland exposed youngsters to risks of sexual, physical, and psychological danger for almost the entire time it was open.

Lady Smith’s damning conclusion of the Christian Brothers was revealed today with the publication of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry.

She said they were the perpetrators who would “pursue their abusive practices with impunity.”And her view of St Ninian’s School in Falkland was “depressing.” and that abusive Brothers had “unrestrained access” to vulnerable children.

The school, run by the Catholic religious order the Congregation of Christian Brothers, closed in 1983.

Allegations of abuse dated back decades - the inquiry related to the provision of residential care dating back to 1953.

It considered evidence about the nature and extent of abuse of children in care, and examined the systems, policies and procedures in place, how these were applied and whether the abuse arose from systemic failures.

Lady Smith’s verdict was scathing on those who ran the facility and indulged in abusive behaviour.

She said: “Abusive Brothers had unrestrained access to the vulnerable children they wished to target.

“That such abuse was possible for virtually the entirety of St Ninian’s existence represents serious failures in oversight, management, and governance.

“Fundamental deficiencies in training, and a serious lack of relevant life experiences, conspired to enable dreadful abuse of children, who were supposedly being cared for by the Order, to occur.

“Children were betrayed by serious breaches of trust and, for many, it caused lasting damage.”

The inquiry heard evidence from 42 witnesses in 2019.

This report is the first in a series of three sets of case study findings in which the residential care of children provided by male religious orders in Scotland is examined.

Lady Smith added: “The Order offered a genuine apology to survivors of abuse at St Ninian’s while recognising that “sorry” has very little content of itself, and that what really matters is admission and recognition of what happened and that what happened was wrong.”

Lady Smith’s final report, and any recommendations she makes, will follow the conclusion of all the evidence gathered by the inquiry .



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