EVIDENCE of physical and sexual abuse has been uncovered at one of Scotland’s most prestigious Catholic boarding schools.
Accounts of abuse spanning 30 years have been revealed at Carlekemp Priory School in North Berwick, which served as a feeder for Fort Augustus Abbey School in the Highlands. Both schools are now closed.
The claims emerged following an investigation by the BBC, which said it had spoken to 50 former pupils about their experiences at the schools, which were run by Benedictine monks.
The head of the Benedictines, Richard Yeo, has apologised to victims.
In a programme broadcast last night, it was revealed that testimony was given against seven Fort Augustus monks, while two headmasters were also accused of covering up the abuse.
Five men told of being raped or sexually abused by Father Aidan Duggan, an Australian monk who taught at Carlekemp and Fort Augustus between 1953 and 1974.
Brothers Christopher and David Walls attended Carlekemp – which closed in 1977 – in the late 1950s from the ages of eight and nine – both were physically and sexually assaulted by the priest.
David said: “I was being groomed, the beatings stopped, the sarcasm and the making a fool of you in public and so on, that all stopped, once the cuddling started. So it was a huge relief. And, you definitely felt this kind of sense of gratitude almost.”
Christopher added: “And it wasn’t until later that it fell into place . . . that was what it was all about – all the beatings and all that was about this.”
Duggan returned to Australia in 1974 and became a parish priest in Sydney. However, no warnings were given by the Benedictines and he continued to abuse. He died in 2004. Dom Yeo, the abbot president of English Benedictine Congregation, said: “I want to say that I’m very sorry about any abuse that may have been committed at Fort Augustus. 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.”
It is also alleged that the abbey was used as a “dumping ground” for clergy who had confessed to abusing children.
Richard White, who was a Benedictine at Downside Abbey in Somerset, confessed his abuse to his abbot more than 20 years ago but was sent to Fort Augustus in 1993.
Last year, White was sentenced to five years for abusing two boys at Downside in the late 1980s.
Dom Yeo admitted he knew White had been sent to Fort Augustus, rather than handed to police.