School abuse test case in court

Date: 2008-10-08
Source: bbc.co.uk

Two former pupils at a residential school at the centre of child abuse allegations are seeking £50,000 in damages from Glasgow City Council.

Two women launched a test case at the Court of Session in Edinburgh claiming they were abused at the Kerelaw school in Ayrshire in the 1990s.

Two male employees were found guilty of abusing children in their care in 2006.

The local authority is contesting the action, arguing the cases are time-barred.

Art teacher Matthew George, 56, was jailed for 10 years at the High Court in Edinburgh for a "horrifying catalogue" of 18 offences.

Residential care worker John Muldoon, 53, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in jail for four offences.

Last year, the Crown Office said it would take no further action over 10 cases of alleged abuse at the school which was shut down in 2006.

Independent inquiry

The Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council launched an independent inquiry into the circumstances of the abuse which was due to report at the end of 2008.

In the civil damages claims brought by the two women, aged 27 and 30, from Glasgow, they maintain they were subjected to brutal physical treatment when they were sent to Kerelaw, which looked after children with significant emotional, social and behavioural problems.

One of the women also said she was sexually abused.

They maintain the injury and damage they suffered was caused by the fault of staff at the school, including George and Muldoon, who were employed by the local authority's predecessors.

One of the women said she suffered psychological problems as a result of her treatment and has flashbacks and nightmares.

She had anxiety and depression and has been diagnosed with chronic post traumatic stress disorder, it is claimed.

Suicide attempts

The other woman, who said she was subjected to sex abuse, said she was addicted to heroin for a time after leaving care.

In her action it is said her life has been very unhappy, with several suicide attempts, episodes of self harm and drug abuse in attempts to block out memories.

She said that following the police investigation into the alleged abuse at the school in 2004 she found it difficult to talk about her experiences and had to be interviewed several times.

Lawyers acting for the women want their cases to be allowed to proceed to hearings of evidence.

Glasgow City Council wants to have the action dismissed.

The judge, Lord Malcolm, who heard two days of legal submissions, will give a ruling at a later date.

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