Nuns Arrested After Years Of Alleged Physical And Sexual Abuse At Orphanage

A general view of the former Smyllum Park Orphanage on September 11, 2017 in Lanark, Scotland. Eleven Nuns were arrested for alleged physical and sexual abuse that occured at the orphanage. Jeff J Mitchell/Getty

Eleven nuns were among the 12 people who were arrested and charged on Thursday for years of alleged physical and sexual abuse against children at a Catholic orphanage in Scotland.

"Twelve people, 11 women and one man, ages ranging from 62 to 85 years, have been arrested and charged in connection with the non-recent abuse of children. All are subject of reports to (the) Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal. A further four individuals will be reported today. Inquiries are continuing, it would be inappropriate to comment further," a spokesperson from Police Scotland, the national police force of Scotland, said, according to The Guardian.

The alleged abuse took place at the Smyllum Park home in the town of Lanark. The orphanage was run by the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul and housed 11,600 children from 1864 until it closed in 1981.

Nuns and lay staff who worked at the orphanage allegedly humiliated children for bedwetting, did not feed them, repeatedly beat them, and verbally and sexually abused them, according to those who lived there.

"The order is deeply troubled by each of these failings. As Daughters of Charity our values are totally against any form of abuse and thus we offer our most sincere and heartfelt apology to anyone who suffered under any form of abuse in our care," Gregor Rolfe, a lawyer for the Daughters of Charity told Lady Smith, a high court judge and chair of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, last year, reported The Guardian.

A mass grave filled with the bodies of at least 400 children was discovered close to the orphanage in 2003. Records show that the majority of the children died from tuberculosis, pneumonia, and pleurisy and that one-third of the children were under the age of five.

"Investigating child abuse offenses is highly complex and every care is taken to ensure that inquiries are proportionate, appropriate and that victims' needs are central to our investigations," said Detective Chief Inspector Sarah Taylor, according to Sky News.

Marie Peachy, who lived with her older brother and younger sister for five years in the orphanage, told the BBC that she will never forget what she saw there.

"It could be something stupid, then you're straight back to Smyllum, back to being a scared little girl sometimes. I'm in my 50s now and I still feel scared," Peachy told the BBC.