“Second man charged over Fort Augustus Abbey school abuse claims” & related articles from 2013 and 2014 giving background on Fort Augustus Abbey School scandal

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BBC News

19 February 2014

A second man has been charged in relation to the abuse of pupils at a former Catholic boarding school.

Police Scotland said the 63-year-old from the west of Scotland had been charged in connection with reports of historic physical and sexual abuse at Fort Augustus Abbey in the Highlands.

A report has been submitted to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.

An 80-year-old man from the Highlands was arrested and charged in September.

Three men were reported to prosecutors in December.

The investigation into reports of historic physical and sexual abuse at Fort Augustus Abbey school near Loch Ness began last March.

The school was run by Benedictine monks but closed down in the 1990s.

A BBC Scotland investigation into claims of abuse at the school, and at its preparatory school, Carlekemp in East Lothian, was broadcast in July last year.


 Three men reported over Fort Augustus abuse claims

BBC News

19 December 2013

Three men have been reported to prosecutors in connection with alleged abuse at a former Catholic boarding school in the Highlands.

Police Scotland said they had spoken to a number of victims and witnesses in relation to reports of historic abuse at Fort Augustus Abbey school.

They said officers had also worked with law enforcement agencies abroad.

In September, a man was charged in relation to claims of physical and sexual abuse at the former school.

Fort Augustus Abbey school on the banks of Loch Ness was run by Benedictine monks but closed down in the 1990s.

The police inquiry into allegations of abuse at the school began in March.

A BBC Scotland investigation into claims of abuse at the school, and at its preparatory school, Carlekemp in East Lothian, was broadcast in July.

A Crown Office spokesman said: “The procurator fiscal at Inverness has received reports concerning three men, aged 77, 80 and 81, in relation to incidents alleged to have occurred between January 1969 and July 1984.

“The reports are under consideration by the procurator fiscal.”

A Police Scotland spokesman said: “In relation to the investigation into historical physical and sexual abuse at Fort Augustus Abbey, Police Scotland have interviewed and spoken with a number of victims and witnesses of abuse and as a result have reported three men to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.

“This is very much an ongoing investigation which was initiated by Highland and Islands division in March 2013 and has extended to liaison with a number of law enforcement agencies both across and out with the UK.

“We understand that it is very difficult for victims of abuse to speak about their experiences and a helpline run by Children 1st is available to provide support and advice to those who may be affected by the investigation.”


Abuse at the Abbey: How paedophile monks were finally exposed

Mark Daly reveals how he uncovered years of sexual abuse at one of the most prestigious Catholic schools in Scotland

The Independent (UK)

Monday 19 August 2013 09:48 BST

Mark Daly

For a century, children were sent to the exclusive Fort Augustus Abbey and its prep school for what their parents hoped would be a first-class Catholic education. Run by the devout monks of the Benedictine order, this fee-paying school was the jewel in the crown of Catholic education in Scotland.

Yet a six-month investigation into the Abbey and its monks has uncovered five decades of systematic physical and sexual abuse reportedly carried out by a series of sadistic and predatory paedophile monks. Men of God, supposedly.

When BBC journalists started investigating this story, Fort Augustus Abbey, in the Highlands, had been closed for 20 years; its prep school, Carlekemp, in East Lothian, for longer.

But there were whispers about the brutal practices carried out by some of the monks who had lived in the Abbey and taught in the school.

Given that nearly every Benedictine school in England had been involved in a child sex abuse scandal, one had to ask if the boys of Fort Augustus had just had a lucky escape, or if this foreboding old Abbey had closed with its dark secrets intact. The latter would soon emerge to be true.

Courageous men like David and Christopher Walls, brothers who lived through experiences that most readers might have believed were the stuff of nightmares, said that the Old Boys network of the school, who trumpeted the place as a wonderful, character-building boot camp, were in denial, and that the investigation should dig deeper. The omertà, or silence, often associated with abuse claims within the Catholic Church had to be broken, they said.

One by one, men opened up about the horrors of Fort Augustus, and it soon became clear that what was being uncovered was a suspected paedophile ring of monks who were patient, systematic and callous.

For some of these boys, life was torture: daily beatings; blood regularly drawn from the ferocity of birch on bare backside; children as young as seven pulled from their beds in the dead of night of night to be lined up and flogged.

Often, they never knew why. It would be years until they twigged.

“We were being groomed,” said David Walls, who attended Carlekemp in the late 1950s. His brother Christopher, a year younger,  was savagely beaten most days for around three years by Father Aidan Duggan, one of the Abbey’s Australian monks, who have all now been exposed as paedophiles.

Suddenly, the beatings stopped.

“The relief was palpable,” said David. “You were just grateful. And that’s when the kissing and cuddling started. It wasn’t until later that it fell into place,” said Christopher. “That was what it was all about, all the beatings.”

Both boys were repeatedly molested by Duggan, who was one of the most prolific of the offenders we learnt about.

Donald MacLeod was raped by Duggan in 1962, when he was 14.

“I always sort of felt it was somehow my fault,” said Donald, who had been sent to the school from Australia.

He, like many of the abused boys tried to raise the alarm, but was told by the headmaster at the time to “stop telling lies” or he would go to hell.

The BBC investigation revealed allegations that headmasters at the school, all monks, had failed to alert police to serious child sex abuse allegations, claiming that they chose either to ignore them, or simply move the offender on.

The last surviving of those headmasters, Father Francis Davidson, stepped down last week from a prestigious role as religious superior of a Benedictine college within Oxford University, St Benet’s Hall, after a series of BBC allegations that he covered up child abuse. Last week, Fr Davidson said that he did “not recall them being reported to me during my time as headmaster of Fort Augustus Abbey School” and that he had “always co-operated fully with the police in their investigations and will continue to do so as they progress and further information is gathered”.

One of the monks, Father Chrysostom Alexander, is the only one accused of sex abuse who remains alive. He was tracked down to Sydney, where he had been working as a priest.

Aged 77, he might he might have taken opportunity to respond to the allegations. Instead, he threatened to call the police, drove his car into mine in a bid to escape questions and was anything but contrite.

He may not have answered any questions, but a dark past that he had been avoiding for 30 years had finally caught up with him.

He is now at the centre of police investigations in both Scotland and Australia.

I salute the men who came forward for our investigation and who were brave enough to speak about the so-called Men of God who have haunted their dreams. There are 10 monks accused of the abuse. Around 50 former pupils who were abused, half of those sexually, have now spoken out.

The victims of the abusive monks of Fort Augustus have decided they will no longer obey the omertà, and will not go quietly.

‘Sins of Our Fathers’ will be shown on BBC2 tomorrow night at 11.20pm


[Click in the box in lower right-hand corner of screen to enlarge]


Ex-pupils allege they were raped and abused by monks at schools in Scotland

Men tell BBC documentary they suffered sexual and physical assaults while at two exclusive schools which have since closed

The Guardian

Monday 29 July 2013

, Scotland correspondent

Fort Augustus Abbey, Fort Augustus, Highlands Region, Scotland

Fort Augustus Abbey in the Highlands. The school occupied a wing of the building. Photograph: Alamy

Dozens of pupils at exclusive Roman Catholic boarding schools in Scotland have alleged they were sexually and physically abused by monks, one of whom allegedly raped at least five boys.

Nine Benedictine monks who taught at the Fort Augustus Abbey school in the Highlands and its preparatory school in East Lothian have been accused of repeatedly beating, sexually assaulting and verbally abusing boys in their care over several decades.

One monk, Father Aidan Duggan, who taught at Fort Augustus and Carlkemp prep school, which both closed in the 1990s, was accused by five ex-pupils of raping and sexually abusing them, but they claim their allegations were ignored and rejected by two headteachers, according to the BBC.

Duggan, an Australian, died in 2004 after returning to become a parish priest in Sydney.

Another priest, Father Chrysostom Alexander, now 77, is also alleged to have abused one pupil at the Fort Augustus school in the 1970s.

Alexander, also an Australian, returned to work in Sydney and has now been suspended by the Catholic church after he was challenged about the allegations by a BBC journalist. Alexander did not respond to the allegations.

The allegations, in a BBC documentary Sins of the Fathers, broadcast on BBC1 Scotland on Monday, are now being investigated by Police Scotland in the latest in a series of scandals about abuse by priests and misconduct by senior figures within the Scottish church.

The church endured its most serious crisis for decades earlier this year after Scotland’s most senior Catholic, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, was forced to resign and retire early in disgrace after he admitted having had affairs and sexual encounters with several priests.

According to the BBC two brothers who attended Carlkemp, Christopher and David Walls, also alleged that Duggan had groomed them.

David Walls said Duggan had been bullying and oppressive in class but then when Walls was 11, Duggan became much friendlier and began being physically intimate.

Walls recalls being made by Duggan to sit on his bed during recorder-playing practice, and has memory blanks about what happened next.

“Why would somebody treat you horrendously and then for no reason, all of a sudden, start cuddling you and kissing you?,” Walls said.

“At the same time, it was a relief that you weren’t on the receiving end of unpleasantness.

“Because that all stopped; the beatings stopped, the sarcasm and the making a fool of you in public and so on, that all stopped once the cuddling started. And you definitely felt this kind of sense of gratitude, almost.”

One former pupil, Donald Macleod, told the documentary that Duggan had effectively groomed him before raping him when he was 14.

Macleod tried to raise the alarm but the then headteacher refused to hear about the alleged rape, warning him that lies were a mortal sin.

The BBC documentary alleges the Benedictine authorities failed to warn their Australian counterparts about the allegations against Duggan, who continued to abuse in Sydney.

The Benedictines are also accused of using Fort Augustus as a secret “dumping ground” for problem priests who were removed from their parishes after being accused of abusing children.

Their superiors are alleged to have used that transfer to cover up the abuse.

Dom Richard Yeo, the abbot president of the English Congregation of Benedictines, could not be reached for comment but in an interview with the BBC he admitted priests had been moved to Fort Augustus after being accused of attacking children.

“I want to say that I’m very sorry, very sorry about any abuse that may have been committed at Fort Augustus,” he said.

“The big problem with Fort Augustus, [is] that the school closed 20 years ago. The monastery closed, what, 15 years ago, and a lot of the people involved are dead.

“Under those circumstances it’s going to be very difficult to get answers which are going to satisfy people.”

A spokeswoman for Police Scotland confirmed there was an inquiry under way.

“Police Scotland, Highland and Islands Division, are investigating historic reports of alleged abuse from former pupils at Fort Augustus Abbey School,” she said.

“This is a live inquiry and it would therefore be inappropriate to provide further comment at present. Any such reports are investigated and dealt with in a victim-centred manner.”


Child abuse claims at closed Fort Augustus school investigated

BBC News

27 May 2013

An allegation of historical child abuse at a closed Catholic boarding school in the Highlands is being investigated by police.

It is alleged that monks running the Abbey School at Fort Augustus beat pupils and sexually assaulted them.

The school was part of a Benedictine Abbey on the shores of Loch Ness and closed in 1993.

With dwindling numbers of monks, the abbey itself closed in 1998 and was sold off as a holiday home development.

A spokesman from Police Scotland’s Highland and Islands division said they were investigating a report of abuse from a former pupil of the school, and inquiries were at an early stage.


Police investigate allegations of sex abuse at Catholic boarding school

Former pupil claims monks at closed boys’ school Fort Augustus Abbey committed ‘systematic, brutal, awful torture’

The Guardian

Saturday 25 May 2013

 Fort Augustus Abbey

Fort Augustus Abbey in the Highlands. Photo: Alamy

Police are investigating allegations of abuse at a Catholic boarding school in the Scottish Highlands, following complaints of a brutal regime in which boys were physically beaten, psychologically tortured and sexually assaulted. The school closed in 1993.

Officers from Police Scotland will travel to Newcastle tomorrow to interview Andrew Lavery, 41, who for two years in the 1980s attended the fee-paying Fort Augustus Abbey, which was run by Benedictine monks. “It was systematic, brutal, awful torture,” says Lavery, who says he was beaten, sexually assaulted and isolated in a locked room for days on end under “special measures”. He added: “The psychological torture was the most damaging. In the end I wanted to kill myself.”

Lavery claims he was beaten unconscious by a monk and lay master while pupils watched, then left at the playing fields to crawl back to school. He also says he experienced “greying”, which involved other pupils pinning the victim’s legs apart while his testicles were hit with a hockey stick. A monk watched without intervening. “I have had pain in my left testicle all my life,” he said.

Lavery also accuses Monk A, now a cleric in England, of physically beating and sexually assaulting him. He will tell police that when he broke his leg Monk A took advantage of his vulnerability and tried to grab his testicles. “I told him to leave me when I went to the toilet, but he was standing over me. He said, ‘No, you need a hand.’ I heard all his heavy breathing behind me. It was the wrong sort of breathing to hear in your life. He was fumbling and I was screaming at him to get off.”

Monk A is also accused of selling alcohol to underage pupils. When contacted by the Observer, he admitted giving them beer, but said: “I never beat people up and there was certainly never any sexual stuff. I don’t know what he’s talking about.”

There has been heated debate on the school’s old boys website about abuse, with some denying it took place. Des Austin, a former pupil who privately investigated abuse at the school, posted extracts from 13 separate emails he received from old boys claiming physical and sexual assault from 1954-91. “The thing that got to me,” one wrote, “was the sexual abuse … and the fact that no one would believe me. My mother said, ‘priests never do such things’.”

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, who resigned as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh in February after allegations of sexual misconduct, was a visitor to the school and guest of honour at last year’s old boys’ dinner. Jimmy Savile, who owned a house in the Highlands, was also an occasional guest and Lavery remembers his Rolls-Royce being parked outside the monastery. Lavery was in a senior position as an addictions nurse until last year when he suffered a traumatic physical injury. While recovering, he suffered flashbacks, recovered memories and night terrors. He no longer works. He has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and assessed as requiring psychotherapy and specialist abuse counselling.

Another former pupil, Douglas Hiddleston, from Fortrose, remembers Lavery being treated “viciously” by pupils and staff. One of the few Protestants in the school, Hiddleston says he was also targeted. “Monk A grabbed me by the throat, pinned me up against the wall and called me a Proddy bastard,” he said.

Another pupil, who asked to remain anonymous, said Monk A “was the epitome of nastiness”. The man, who says he was once nearly drowned by fellow pupils while staff watched, also alleges that another monk was guilty of sexually predatory behaviour and tried to “groom” him. “Seediness pervaded the school,” he said.

The culture was similar for an earlier generation, according to some at the school in the 1960s. “I came close to suicide,” said Sean O’Donovan, who says he was bruised for five weeks after a birching. “I just couldn’t see an end to it.I tried using a rope, but it was too thin. It was very painful and, since I was trying to stop the pain, that made me think.”

William Wattie, who attended from 1959 to 1964 and became a headteacher, said: “Institutionalised bullying … I could never work out where the gentle carpenter of Nazareth fitted in.” He questioned “cuddling” by monks at the school’s feeder primary at Carlekemp in North Berwick, which has also been linked to abuse allegations. The Catholic church in Australia accepted abuse had been perpetrated by Father Aidan Duggan, a former teacher at both Carlekemp and Fort Augustus. Duggan died in 2004.

Fort Augustus monastery, which belonged to the English Congregation of Benedictines, also closed in 1998. The current Abbot President, Father Richard Yeo of Downside Abbey, admits former pupils have contacted him regarding the school. “I have heard allegations of both physical and sexual abuse which have disturbed me. If anyone comes forward to speak to me about this, I will try to be there for them,” he said.

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