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Children's village abused victims step-up their demands.

They can't deny abuse did happen At Quarriers, so why can't we have a FULL PUBLIC INQUIRY?

It's nearly five years since the first court case in the Quarriers abuse scandal that rocked Scotland. The pain has yet to heal for many of the victims, who were just youngsters at the time. This week they have redoubled their calls for a full Public Enquiry into events at the children's home in Bridge of Weir. They insist that only an enquiry will allow the victims to get on with their lives properly. Meantime, another 20 people have lodged cases against Quarriers in the Court of Session.

Russell Leadbetter reports. Glasgow Evening Times 27th May 2006

David Whelan's early life was not an easy one. When he was nine, he and his younger sister were sent to Quarriers at Bridge of Weir after their mother, who had mental health problems, abandoned them in order to escape her violent, drunken husband. David and his sister were left in their tenement in Glasgow's east end for nearly a week before being rescued. During his stay at Quarriers, in the late 1960s and 1970s, David was sexually abused by John Porteous, a house parent, the so-called "Beast of the Belltower".

In November 2002, Porteous was jailed for eight years on two charges of lewd and libidinous behaviour and two charges of shameless indecency at the High Court in Glasgow. His sentence was later cut to five years. Recently, however, Porteous was released after serving just three years in jail.

Whelan, 48, has gone on to have a lucrative business career, but has never forgotten the plight of other young children who were scarred for life by their experiences. Mr Whelan said: "I believe, as do many other people, there should be a full public enquiry into Quarriers. We are now looking at six or seven people who've been convicted, and there may be others in the system who we're not aware of. I know of no other organisation in the UK that has had so many people convicted without there automatically being a full public enquiry. It would allow the Quarriers of yesterday to be properly investigated ­ and the Quarriers of today to go about its business free of any taint of the past."

He added: "The Scottish Executive minister, Peter Peacock, has said there are no residual issues, and that is why he has not agreed to an enquiry. But he is ignorant of the facts. Quarriers management asked for a Commission of Enquiry and Mr Peacock turned even that down. Quarriers have said that if abuse occurred, they apologise. We, the victims, say that the convictions are all sufficient proof that abuse did happen, and that Quarriers should apologise unreservedly. There are many unresolved issues left hanging over from the abuse cases. We hope Quarriers will sit down with our group, FBGA (Former Boys and Girls Abused of Quarriers Homes). FBGA is at the heart of these issues. Quarriers may think that by dealing with others, we will go away. But our voices get stronger every day."

Top Glasgow lawyer Cameron Fyfe is acting on behalf of 20 people who have lodged cases against Quarriers in the Court of Session. He said: "What surprises me about these cases is that in many of them there are criminal convictions against the abusers and yet Quarriers' insurers are still denying that abused ever took place. I haven't come across that before. I'm also surprised that they are relying on the defence that the cases are time-barred, when their own literature indicates that they have great sympathy for people who have been abused as children and that these same people have difficulty coming to terms with the abuse in their adult life. We hope that, before too long, the insurers of Quarriers will make offers of compensation to these people who have been through enough as it is without having to go through a civil court case and the horrors of cross-examination. But no offer has been made so far and there's no sign that it will be made. If that continues to be the case, we will press ahead with these court actions and arrange hearings in all of them. The 20 cases are all separate at the moment but we have suggested to the solicitors acting for Quarriers that we conjoin them, almost like a group action, and for the court to make a decision at one hearing for all of them, which will probably be less harrowing for them. It might speed up the whole process."

Quarriers was founded by William Quarrier over 130 years ago to re-home orphaned and destitute children in Scotland. Between 1878 and the mid-1980s, more than 30,000 children were cared for in Quarriers children's village. Today, Quarriers no longer operates as an orphanage, but provides care for disabled children and adults, and also cares for epileptics, the homeless and children with behavioural problems.

The first abuse case came to court in 2001, when former house-parent Samuel McBrearty was jailed for 12 years (later reduced to 10 years) after being convicted of repeatedly raping and indecently molesting two girls over a seven-year period.

In 2001, Joseph Nicholson, 74, known as "Uncle Joe", was jailed for two years for abusing a 13-year-old girl during the late-1960s.

In April 2004, John Porteous' brother-in-law, Alexander ("Sandy") Wilson, 61, another former houseparent, was jailed for seven-and-a-half years for sexually abusing girls in his care.

And Mary Drummond, 73, was put on probation for three years at Greenock Sheriff Court on cruelty charges, dating back to the l950s and l960s.

The most recent case involved Ruth Wallace, a former house-mother at Quarriers, who was placed on probation for abusing kids in her care 30 years ago. Sentencing the 72-year-old spinster, Greenock sheriff John Herald branded her conduct as "inexcusable". Wallace had been found guilty after a trial of four counts of assault and three of wilful ill-treatment of children dating from 1971-1981.

But many of the victims who testified against Ruth Wallace know that they will never be able to put their Quarriers years behind them. One woman, "Linda", told the Evening Times: "I have a lasting impression of my four years at Quarriers and I carry it with me always. No matter how hard you try to verbalise it, words cannot convey the feelings of utter helplessness, hopelessness, terror, fear and despair that I felt there."

She added: "Our family background was one of abuse. My dad was a violent schizophrenic who would regularly beat my mum, who was Scottish, to a pulp, and put her in hospital. My three sisters and my brother often had to go into care for our own safety. If we had come a stable, ordinary background, it would have been more obvious to us and to other people that we were being ill-treated at Quarriers. But because we were already traumatised, we assumed that what happened at Quarriers was normal. The things that Ruth Wallace said to us hurt us still. Bruises heal, but the emotional bullying never does."

Linda alleged that one task included being ordered to get out of bed early in the morning to scrub a shed floor with toothbrushes. On other occasions, she alleges, she would be invited to share Wallace's bedroom, and would lie awake all night, terrified. "There was never a day went by that somebody did not suffer in some way, whether it was by being humiliated or beaten. You felt for the other people who were experiencing it but your over-riding feeling was, ‘Thank God it's not me'."

"I don't want to say that my time there was all bad. We had some good times there, but most of the times I enjoyed it was when we were outside the cottage. There was a huge park with a pond, and in the summer there would be groups that got up to all sorts of activities there. If it hadn't been for Ruth Wallace, Quarriers would have been a lovely place to be."

"My sisters and I never spoke about the things that had happened to us, apart from incidents that had involved one or more of us. Two of my sisters made statements for the Ruth Wallace trial and there were things in them that I had no knowledge of. The thing was, we knew at the time that each of us were all suffering in some respects, but we just didn't talk about it."

'Jane', another former resident, told how her 15 years in Quarriers, which ended when she was 18, left her so 'messed up' that she tried to kill herself.

Jane was one of those who testified against Ruth Wallace during the trial. She found herself in Quarriers as a result of serious physical abuse by her mother: she was hospitalised for five months with multiple fractures. Jane said: "There have been a number of trials over the years but in my opinion the public does not realise the extent of the things that went on there, because we've never had an opportunity to talk about it."

"Even at the Ruth Wallace trial, we were only allowed to answer the questions that were put to us. As one of the other victims has put it to me, the jury only got a flavour of the horrors that we went through there."

Witnesses told how the woman they trusted to care for them abused them on a daily basis. In one of the worst incidents, a young boy was assaulted when Wallace tipped a bucket of potatoes over his head. The boy's little sister, who had a problem with bed-wetting, was forced to sleep on a bare mattress.

Other witnesses told how they were locked in a dark cupboard while one girl was assaulted with a hairbrush and another was punched on the head and body.

Jane added: "I was there for a long time, and the misery was more prolonged. Growing up in Quarriers wasn't like growing up in the world ­it was a closed society, with its own rules, and it was assumed by everyone that nothing wicked was going on there, because it was run by Christians. But I was bullied and battered by particular people. They stole from me, and once tricked me into drinking urine during a church picnic."

Jane claims that any girls who were found whispering after lights-out at 7pm or 8pm "would be dragged downstairs to the play-room and left to stand for anything up to five hours in the dark. If you were found asleep on the floor, you'd be dragged by the hair and made to stand back up again".

She added: "First Minister Jack McConnell has seen fit to apologise to all the victims of institutional abuse." There has been no unreserved apology from Quarriers that is what I and many other people in my situation would like."

In a statement, Quarriers chief executive Phil Robinson said it no longer ran children's homes and was a "very different" organisation to the one that once existed. "In the last few years, several former employees of Quarriers in the 1960s and 1970s have been tried and convicted for alleged abuse towards children in their care, whilst residents of Quarriers Homes. Since the issue of abuse first arose we have been proactive in assuring that our current child protection policies and procedures, which compare well with those of any other agencies, offer the best possible protection for children involved in our services."

"We are not complacent, however and are constantly open to advice as to how those policies and procedures can be improved. Throughout the past four years, I have consistently and publicly stated that our sympathies are with those whose lives have been blighted by the actions of those convicted individuals and that the organisation sincerely regrets these events of the past."

"I have met many survivors of child sexual abuse and organisations representing them. We have been more than willing to hear from their experience what more they think that we can do for survivors today. Quarriers' position is that if any individual suffered abuse at Quarriers then we apologise."

This is the original article unedited version with a section omitted due to legal reason's.

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