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Woman 'was sexually assaulted by hooded figure called The Devil helped by cult of satanic nuns then buried alive overnight' at orphanage

  • She described sisters who ran it as ‘cult’ which presided over bizarre rituals 
  • The man, at Smyllum Park orphanage in South Lanarkshire, she said was responsible was wearing a hood – and the sisters told her he was ‘the Devil’ 
  • Afterwards, she said she was buried alive overnight then forced to bathe in blood
  • In other chilling evidence, the SCAI heard a young girl was beaten by nuns 

A woman yesterday told how she was subjected to a Satanic sex ritual by nuns at a notorious orphanage.

She described the sisters who ran it as a sadistic ‘cult’ which presided over bizarre rituals.

In extraordinary evidence at the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI), she told how she was sexually assaulted in a candlelit chapel in the grounds of the Smyllum Park home run by the nuns.

The man she said was responsible was wearing a hood – and the sisters told her he was ‘the Devil’.

Afterwards, she said she was buried alive overnight at the orphanage in Lanark, then forced to bathe in what she was told was blood.

The claim comes after previous allegations that deaths of children at Smyllum were ¿covered up¿

The claim comes after previous allegations that deaths of children at Smyllum were ‘covered up’

In other chilling evidence, the SCAI heard a young girl was beaten by nuns – and never seen again.

The claim comes after previous allegations that deaths of children at Smyllum were ‘covered up’.

The testimony about the Satanic sex ritual is the latest in a catalogue of evidence about abuse at the home, which was run by a Catholic religious order and closed in 1981.

The alleged victim addressed a hearing in Edinburgh yesterday, using the name Janie, and said she had been born in 1961 and was admitted to Smyllum in 1965.

She said: ‘To be honest, nowadays I think they were a cult.

‘They would take us from our beds at night, they would take us to the big field [outside Smyllum].

‘There was quite a lot of us, with the sisters, five or six of them, maybe more. They would take us out into a big field and make us stand in a circle and dance around a tree.

‘They would take us to the back of a chapel, they would take us down the stairs – it was dingy and dark with candles. There would be a big square slab, they laid me on that.’

Janie said: ‘I was sitting on one of the nun’s knees, they gave me a lollipop. They said, “The Devil’s coming out now”.’

She said she did not know who her abuser was but ‘it was a guy in a hood – and they said it was the Devil’. She was sexually abused by the man then taken outside, where they ‘buried me alive, left me there’.

One of the nuns whispered to her: ‘Don’t worry, you will get back out.’

She said she was ‘buried in a drain’ and left overnight, and released in the morning.

Janie said the nuns dragged her upstairs in the home, where she was forced to take a bath in what she was told was blood, but now believes to be ‘red dye’.

She said: ‘They made out it was blood, they soaked me under it.’

Smyllum provided care for orphans but also children from poor, working-class families and troubled homes

Smyllum provided care for orphans but also children from poor, working-class families and troubled homes

Janie also said she was ‘constantly’ tied to her bed and had masking tape placed over her face while nuns tried to suffocate her with a pillow.

On other occasions she was trapped in a wardrobe in her room, but was never sure why.

Janie said: ‘I’ve not got a clue. It’s just like they liked doing it. Maybe I was hyper, or wanted to play.’

She said the children were once woken by a nun carrying a box that she had said contained a baby.

Janie said: ‘She woke up the dormitory and said one of the sisters had done a sin, and had a baby, and they were going to bury the baby alive.

‘Were they just trying to play with our heads? Was it true? Was it real?

‘Were they just trying to make us demented?’

Janie also told how she and her older sister were taken away from Smyllum in a van late one night.

They were with some nuns and ‘quite a few men’ who tried to put her in a straitjacket which was too big for her. She believes she was drugged but then ‘conked out’ and was later taken back to the home.

Smyllum provided care for orphans but also children from poor, working-class families and troubled homes.

Other evidence, from a woman called Margaret, described an attack on a girl of about eight or nine

Other evidence, from a woman called Margaret, described an attack on a girl of about eight or nine

Janie was not an orphan and left Smyllum when her mother spotted that she had bruises and immediately contacted a social worker.

In a statement to the inquiry, Janie said she suspected the nuns had ‘murdered people’, adding: ‘We should get justice.’

It was revealed in September that at least 400 children from Smyllum are thought to be buried in a mass grave at Lanark’s St Mary’s Cemetery.

Other evidence, from a woman called Margaret, described an attack on a girl of about eight or nine.

Margaret, born in 1950, was detailing her ordeal at Smyllum between 1955 and 1960. She said: ‘They beat her up… I never saw her again.’

On one occasion, Margaret said she was taken with other children into a room where a dead nun lay on a bed, and they were told to kiss the corpse.

Margaret refused, spitting on the dead nun instead. She was grabbed by the hair by other sisters who told her she would ‘rot in hell’. Mother-of-two Margaret, now a widow, said: ‘She was probably one of the nuns who had beat the living daylights out of us.’

The inquiry has already heard this week that an eight-year-old girl was sexually abused by a priest at Smyllum, then had her arm broken by a nun who had found out about the assault.

Dr Theresa Tolmie-McGrane, now 55, said she was later forced to receive Communion from the priest who abused her – who told her she was ‘a soldier of God’.

Dr Theresa Tolmie-McGrane, now 55, said she was later forced to receive Communion from the priest who abused her ¿ who told her she was ¿a soldier of God¿
Image of Theresa Tolmie-McGrane aged 8

Dr Theresa Tolmie-McGrane, now 55, said she was later forced to receive Communion from the priest who abused her – who told her she was ‘a soldier of God’

When she alerted other priests to the abuse, she was told to pray for those responsible.

The inquiry has also heard claims that Francis McColl, 13, died after a Smyllum worker struck him with a golf club.

In posthumous testimony, read to the SCAI this month, a former resident said Francis was struck by a ‘psychotic’ employee – who was not a nun and who cannot be named for legal reasons.

Further accusations about Smyllum staff were made by a witness named John, who was born in 1948 and went to the orphanage in 1958.

He described the home as a ‘concentration camp’ where nuns used hairbrushes – concealed in their tunics – to beat children. The inquiry has also heard from a witness named Paul, who was taken into care as a baby and who believes he was born around 1959.

He said he was raped by a priest at Smyllum after revealing that he had been sexually assaulted by another clergyman.

Paul said he was pinned down and beaten with a cricket bat by nuns, and trapped in a wicker laundry basket for four days. A nun once beat him with hosepipe and told him he ‘should be grateful’.

Last week, a witness called David told the SCAI that a six-year-old, Sammy Carr, died days after a nun launched a frenzied attack on him, kicking him in the head.

The inquiry, before Lady Smith, continues. 

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Journalist, writer and broadcaster, based in London and Paris, her latest book is Touché: A French Woman's Take on the English. Read more articles from Agnes.

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