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Tuesday, February 10, 1998 Published at 04:49 GMT


Nuns facing abuse claims
image: [ The BBC Scotland programme talks to people who claim they were abused ]
The BBC Scotland programme talks to people who claim they were abused

A BBC documentary has revealed that an order of Roman Catholic nuns is facing more than 250 claims for compensation from former children's home residents who allege they were abused.

The Poor Sisters of Nazareth, which ran homes for disadvantaged children in Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Kilmarnock, could face a bill running into millions of pounds amid allegations of abuse.

[ image:  ]
A total of 263 people are involved in the allegations against the order, whose home in Aberdeen has been investigated by the police.

Former residents of the four homes have relived their alleged experiences for Tuesday's edition of the Frontline Scotland series.

They were 'next to God'

One man who lived at the Nazareth House in Lasswade near Edinburgh, says: "The nuns to us were next to God. And we would think they were right and that it was us that were wrong."

An Aberdeen resident, who wished to remain anonymous, says she was abused as a 10-year-old because she suffered from fits and as a result, tried to commit suicide.

Others claim they were punished for bed-wetting or refusing to eat meals.

For the first time however, allegations have emerged that children were abused by non-religious members of staff at the homes and these too are set to be investigated by police.

Children 'may' have been mistreated

Bishop Mario Conti: "fantastical claims" (0'-40")
The Roman Catholic Bishop of Aberdeen, Mario Conti, admitted to the programme that it was "possible, yes it's possible" that the nuns may have mistreated the children.

"We are human beings. We are all flawed and fallible and members of religious orders are no different. So it's possible. That it is probable I am not so sure, though some people clearly have a memory of having been treated badly, as they see it, in regard to bed-wetting."

"There are some people before whom lawyers have been dangling a pot of gold. There are a whole range of possible motives, some of which are perhaps more understandable and more acceptable and others more reprehensible.

The Bishop added: "I am simply saying that some people have been making fantastical accusations against the sisters."

Lawyers for those who have come forward to make the allegations say that if the sisters do not settle out of court, they will put forward six test cases for compensation.

Frontline Scotland says that according to their financial records, the Poor Sisters are worth 154m in Britain alone.

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