I was abused at mass grave or­phan­age, woman claims

Belfast Telegraph - - NEWS - BY LUCINDA CAMERON

A WOMAN has said she was abused at an or­phan­age run by nuns where the bod­ies of hun­dreds of chil­dren were buried in a mass grave.

Theresa Tolmie-McGrane told the BBC she suf­fered men­tal, phys­i­cal and sex­ual abuse at Smyl­lum Park Or­phan­age in La­nark in the 1970s.

A BBC and Sun­day Post in­ves­ti­ga­tion found that at least 400 chil­dren from the in­sti­tu­tion are thought to be buried in an un­marked grave at the town’s St Mary’s Ceme­tery.

The or­phan­age, run by the Daugh­ters of Char­ity of St Vin­cent de Paul, was home to more than 10,000 chil­dren between open­ing in 1864 and clos­ing in 1981.

A spokesman said it was “shocked and sad­dened” by the abuse al­le­ga­tions.

Ms Tolmie-McGrane ar­rived at the or­phan­age at the age of six in 1968 and said she was first sex­u­ally abused by a priest when she was eight.

She told the BBC: “I had a lit­tle part-time job clean­ing the pews in the church and this par­tic­u­lar priest would ar­rive early and he would ask me to go into a par­tic­u­lar room with him and he would ask me to sit on his lap and fon­dle him.

“He tried to fon­dle me and I just pulled away.”

On one oc­ca­sion she said that a nun walked in to find the priest abus­ing her.

She said: “In­stead of be­ing an­gry at him, she got re­ally an­gry at me. She yanked me by the left arm so hard and flung me across the room and called me a whore and told me to get out of there. I didn’t know my arm was bro­ken at the time. It was only re­alised the next day.

“I think in some ways it was worse than just sex­ual abuse be­cause I was pun­ished with the bro­ken arm for do­ing some­thing a priest had forced me to do.”

Ms Tolmie-McGrane, who now works in Nor­way as a psy­chol­o­gist, left the in­sti­tu­tion at the age of 17 and went on to study at Glas­gow Uni­ver­sity.

Prince Harry dur­ing a visit to Chatham Green Project, a con­ser­va­tion ini­tia­tive at the Wilder­ness Foun­da­tion in Chatham Green, London

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