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Abuse victim: Why I have to go public.
Man drops anonymity after lying claim from convicted paedophile.

By Neil Mackay, Home Affairs Editor Sunday Herald – 04/05/2003

IT was a stomach-churning decision for David Whelan. More than 30 years ago, he was sexually abused while in care in Scotland. Last year, his abuser, John Porteous, was jailed for eight years. But, unlike most paedophiles, Porteous didn't resign himself to a spell behind bars. Instead he called his victims liars.

Porteous is now mounting a campaign to win his freedom, and other voices are beginning to question the validity of the conviction. Last month, the BBC's Frontline Scotland broad cast claimed that Porteous had been falsely accused by his victims in order for them to get rich on the back of law suits.

As with all victims of sexual offences, David Whelan's anonymity was guaranteed by law. But after news of a planned appeal by Porteous , David Whelan felt he had only one option left: to go public.

Porteous was jailed in November 2002 for abusing two boys. David Whelan and another man who wishes to remain anonymous. The abuse took place in the late 1960s and 70s in Quarriers, a so-called children's village on the outskirts of Bridge of Weir. Porteous was a house father in one of the many Quarriers cottages where abandoned and neglected children were placed in care.

Strathclyde Police are investigating a series of allegations about abuse in Quarriers dating back decades. Samuel McBrearty, another Quarriers employee, was convicted of raping and assaulting three children in September 2001. Another man appeared in court in June last year accused of 13 sexual offences against children.

Police say a number of investigations are still open, others have been reported to the procurator fiscal and some men have been charged and are awaiting trial. The Sunday Herald has been investigating allegations of paedophilia in Quarriers for more than a year with the co-operation of former victims.

I have no alternative now but to give up my anonymity, Whelan said. The BBC put out a program effectively saying Porteous was innocent and I was a liar. What else am I supposed to do? This is just more abuse being heaped on to me.

Whelan says the idea that he would be motivated by cash to make false allegations is utterly absurd. He doesn't fit the stereotype of someone who came from a violent, broken home, ended up in care for much of his childhood and suffered beatings and sexual assault as a child. He is a wealthy, articulate, intelligent, self-made man who runs his own recruitment company in London and has a lucrative sideline in property.

I recently sold a property in London, making more than £200,000 in profit. I don't need the money. I'm more than financially secure, he added. David was sent to Quarriers, along with his younger sister, Irene, after their mother, who had mental health problems, abandoned them. She was fleeing her violent, drunken, womanizing husband. The children were left in their tenement in Glasgow's east end for almost a week before social services were alerted.

To Whelan's horror, Irene appeared in the program claiming Porteous was more than likely innocent. She'd also lived with the Porteouses in their cottage in Quarriers village. Her comments on the program contradict everything she's said to me and the police, said Whelan.

Whelan's older sister, Jeanette, accompanied him during the interview and supported every claim he made. Jeanette has also carved out a successful life for herself despite her traumatic past.

Ironically, Whelan only got involved in the police investigation when Porteous's wife Helen phoned him at home seeking his support and saying her husband had been accused of crimes against children. Helen Porteous was charged with assault and neglect but the charges were withdrawn and she was found not guilty. After the phone call, Whelan contacted the police and then began receiving abusive phone calls from someone with a Scottish accent.

Whelan, who is now 45, arrived in Quarriers aged nine. By 11, he was moved into the Porteous's cottage where the couple acted as surrogate parents to Whelan and a dozen other young boys and girls. Ironically, Porteous was a sort of fundamentalist Christian-type, even though he could be brutally violent. He once hit my sister Irene's head off a sink after an argument about the clothes she wanted to wear.

The sexual abuse would always happen when his wife was out. I'd be in the bath and he'd knock on the door. I'd try to convince him to go away but I was only a kid and he'd persist so eventually I'd unlock the door. He'd come in and that's when the abuse would begin. I was about 12 when it started. On some occasions he'd start a play fight and then start fondling me. I was never raped; however, it was a case of him touching me and me being made to touch him.

When his wife went out, my stomach would sink in fear, as I knew what was about to take place. I ended up running away about six times.

Porteous also worked in the church in the grounds of Quarriers village, and would often take Whelan into the belltower in order to abuse him. He kept a mattress in the tower which he abused children on. This earned him the grim nickname: the "Beast of the Belltower".

I have to confess that I was no angel as a child. Helen Porteous and I once had a confrontation which ended up with us kicking each other. When Porteous came in he gave me a terrible beating.

The beatings would follow a pattern too. He'd drag me down the stairs by the hair and into a shed. All the time he'd be punching and kicking me. I have a perforated ear drum to this day. Is the man, who says he's innocent, Porteous was found guilty in a court of Law. But still he continues the abuse by calling me a liar. I don't want to be in the papers, but what other way is there for me to defend myself?

Like many victims of paedophila, Whelan suffers from depression and anxiety. I consider myself a strong person, he says. But by the 1980's, I realized I needed help. I told my psychiatrist what had happened and he said I should go to the police , but at the time I didn't want to because I didn't want to break up Porteous's home, the way my family had been broken up. He had children and I didn't want them hurt. Whelan is also outraged at the attitude of Quarriers to the victims of paedophiles who worked for the care home. They just don't want to know, he said. There has been nothing, not even the offer of a social worker to help me. It is in their interests for me to shut up and go away.

Quarriers have not apologized to Whelan nor accepted liability for the abuse he suffered. Last month Quarriers insurers, Norwich Union, sent a letter to his solicitors. It simply read: We deny your client was abused by John Porteous.

Whelan now plans to sue the charity. If they apologised to me publicly then I would drop my claim, he said. However, they haven't done that, so I have no alternative but to use whatever means he canto punish them and get justice.

Quarriers chief Executive Phil Robinson said: It would be totally inappropriate of me to take a position on the veracity of any claims for compensation.

 

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