Carlekemp abuse victims urged to come forward

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Victims of alleged abuse by monks at a Lothian school are being encouraged to contact police.

Dozens of former pupils at the Fort Augustus Abbey school in the Highlands and its East Lothian feeder school, Carlekemp - which closed in 1977 - have claimed that they were molested and beaten by the monks who taught them decades ago.

A group of former pupils told a BBC documentary that they were raped or sexually abused by Father Aidan Duggan, an Australian monk who taught at Carlekemp in North Berwick and Fort Augustus between 1953 and 1974.

Fr Duggan died in 2004 but some abuse claims relate to men who are still alive and police said they have been investigating since March.

One former headmaster of Fort Augustus, Fr Francis Davidson, resigned from a role at Oxford University last week amid accusations that he failed to act on reports of abuse during his time in charge in the 1970s.

Detective Chief Inspector Pamela Ross said: “I understand that it must be very difficult to speak about such matters, but if anyone has any information about this case they are encouraged to come forward and report this to police using 101.

“Any such reports will be directed to the inquiry team and fully investigated. All inquiries will be dealt with in a sensitive manner by trained officers.

“We have also established a number of support mechanisms together with partners and one of these is a helpline run by Children 1st. These call takers, who are trained to provide advice and guidance, can refer callers or forward any relevant information to the Police, or to the appropriate agency to provide further support locally.”

Charity Children 1st launched a helpline at the weekend for anyone affected to call. The organisation traditionally helps children, young people and families recover from abuse, neglect and violence and campaigns for children’s rights.

Chief executive Anne Houston said: “By providing confidential space, our abuse support line offers help to anyone who believes they were abused during their time at Fort Augustus or Carlekemp schools.

“We know that the police are investigating allegations brought to their attention, taking the time to listen sensitively to what is told to them.

“Our abuse support line aims to assist those investigations, providing a resource which police can pass on to victims who come forward. It can also be contacted directly by anyone affected by this situation.”

The support line number is 0800 345 7457 and is open Monday to Friday 9am to 10pm and weekends 12 noon to 8pm. Calls from landlines and most mobiles are free.