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Wednesday, 05 December 2018

Former children’s home resident told ex-employee he was raped as a teenager

Written by Hilary Duncanson

A former resident of a children’s home confided to an ex-employee he had been raped and sexually abused as a teenager, an inquiry has been told.

The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) heard claims the abuse happened to a boy who lived at Barnardo’s Balcary House in Hawick when he worked on a weekend job away from the home.

The inquiry, sitting in Edinburgh, heard that the boy ended up leaving the home in the Scottish Borders after the attacks and had gone on to have a difficult life.

In a written statement read out to the hearing by a lawyer, witness Jasmine Bell – who worked at Balcary between 1963 and 1966 – said it was a “very happy home” and she was not aware of any abuse when she was working there.

However, she said she was contacted later in life by a former resident after meeting him at a reunion.

The inquiry heard that in a private message online, he revealed when he was about 14 and a resident at Balcary he had a weekend job in the area.

The man he reported to, and some of his friends, “would rape and sexually abuse this boy every weekend”, the witness said in her statement.

“I don’t know where this happened but it wasn’t in the home,” the statement continued.

The inquiry heard how the boy withdrew from the work but he was “unable to tell anybody why he left”.

She recalled an occasion on which the man, who cannot be named, went to the home and asked if the boy would return to work for the day – something which “resulted in him being sexually abused and raped again”.

The inquiry heard the boy’s behaviour deteriorated and he was ultimately moved somewhere else.

“This boy went on to have a hard life,” Ms Bell’s statement said.

Meanwhile, a former employee at Balcary House claimed children and staff were “let down”.

The man, who cannot be identified, said the home was a generally positive environment and he had no recollection of corporal punishment being used when he was there in the early 1970s.

But in terms of issues like care planning, compared to procedures today, “looking back it’s a different world”, he agreed.

The witness, now in his 60s, also told how staff had limited background information on the youngsters in their care.

“I had no sense of what was happening in their outside lives,” he said.

“It’s upsetting, to put it mildly, that we weren’t working in terms of helping people emotionally.”

In a concluding statement to the inquiry, he said: “I think that back then, staff were let down. Worse, that children were let down.

“As an inexperienced member of staff, I feel I let the children down and I’m sorry about that. Looking back, it doesn’t feel good.”

The SCAI is currently examining the care given to children at establishments run by non-religious and voluntary organisations.

The hearings, before Lady Smith, continue.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Nick Mailer / PA Wire.