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Woman describes decade of hell in the clutches of nuns

A WOMAN who allegedly suffered a decade of brutal abuse at an orphanage run by nuns has described her ordeal.

Theresa Tolmie-McGrane told the BBC of her mistreatment in the 1970s at Smyllum Park Orphanage in Lanark, which is being examined by the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry.

A priest started to sexually abuse her when she was eight, two years after she arrived there.

Ms Tolmie-McGrane, who now works as a psychologist in Norway, said: “Every child was beaten, punished, locked in a dark room, made to eat their own vomit, and I would say that most of us had our mouths rinsed out with carbolic soap.”

On one occasion, she said, a nun walked in to find the priest abusing her.

The woman said: “She got really angry at me. She yanked me by the left arm so hard and flung me across the room and called me a whore and told me to get out of there.

“I think in some ways it was worse than just sexual abuse because I was punished with the broken arm for doing something a priest had forced me to do.”

A spokesman for the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul, the Catholic society that ran the orphanage, said: “We would urge anyone who believes they have been a victim to contact the police, who will then work with our safeguarding team.

“We would like to offer sincere and heartfelt apology to anyone who suffered any form of abuse while at our facilities.”

The bodies of at least 400 orphans were buried in a mass grave at the town’s St Mary’s Cemetery, a BBC and Sunday Post investigation has found. Records show that most of them died of natural causes between 1870 and 1930.

Prosecutors have said there is no evidence of a crime in relation to the grave.

More than 10,000 children passed through the orphanage between its opening in 1864 and closure in 1981.

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