Nuns destroyed my childhood Victim reveals horrific beatings as Archbishop apologises on behalf of diocese
BIRMINGHAM’S Catholic church has offer an apology to children abused while in its care for the first time.
In the passages of a letter read to congregations, the Archbishop of Birmingham revealed his sorrow for the “profound betrayal of trust” that resulted in innocents being preyed on in the diocese institutions.
The Most Rev Bernard Longley expressed his shame over the suffering caused to children and the vulnerable by “priests and others”.
The public announcement came a week before a high-profile inquiry into historic abuse in the Catholic archdiocese.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, held in London, starts this Friday. The Archbishop will also attend and issue a public apology for the terrible crimes committed by members of his church.
His words will offer comfort to ‘Danny’ (whose real name cannot be revealed due to a restriction order) whose young life was pitted with pain, suffering and humiliation.
What should be treasured memories of an innocent time have been replaced by nightmares of daily beatings. The bruises have long since gone, the mental scars remain.
The 59-year-old from Nuneaton, Wawrickshire did not suffer at the hands of a sadistic father or school bullies.
He says his tormentors were some of the nuns who oversaw St Joseph’s Special School for children with learning difficulties. It was based in the grandiose setting of Croome Court, an 18th century stately home near Pershore, south Worcestershire.
Danny is one of five former pupils at the establishment who have provided statements to the inquiry. Danny will be referred to only as “F49”.
“We are not victims, we are survivors,” said the recovering alcoholic, now disabled following severe heart problems.
“You were targeted continually – they enjoyed degrading and humiliating you.”
Scottish-born Danny – raised in a staunch Catholic household – talks articulately about his 16 months at Croome Court, an ordeal that began in 1970. It only ended when he attempted to take his own life.
The experience, he maintains, destroyed his life. The father-of-four stumbled from petty crime to approved school to two adult prison stints.
He once embraced the Church. He now despises it.
“I was a proper Catholic,” he said. “My mum was Spanish; my dad was half Italian, half Irish. I was a passionate Celtic supporter, As a family, we went to Lourdes. Now there is nothing. I can’t even look at a crucifix.”
The former pit worker maintains he had no right to be placed at Croome Court. In his own words, he was not “feeble minded”, he was merely a serial school truant. Once there, he rebelled against the nuns’ strict regime, running away five times, and, he alleges, was near broken by merciless beatings.
“They hit you with sticks, anything,” he alleged. “They punched you, they dragged you by the hair. The worst was after I’d run away again. I was in the dormitory, they beat the s*** out of me, I was black and blue. That was just the start.
“They dragged me upstairs, ripping the clothes off me and still beat me. I could handle myself. I refused to scream and one said, ‘You think you’re tough?’ They went in a frenzy, they went to town.”
Danny says he spent nights locked in a cupboard – a regular disciplinary lesson.
Scrubbing toilets was another tried and tested technique.
He was also placed in a cold bath and rubbed near raw.
Danny’s young life began falling apart soon after his family moved from Scotland to Coventry.
Unable to settle, he continually skipped primary school lessons.
His mother unwittingly consigned Danny to Croome Court.
He was one of around 150 children, aged seven to 13. Some took the harsh discipline better than others. “There were a lot who were proper traumatised,” said Danny. Catholic
>Croome Court near Pershore, in Worcestershire, was the home of St Joseph’s Special School till 1979
>Above: ‘Danny’ as a pupil – his identity cannot be revealed. Left: The Most Rev Bernard Longley