A girl of eight was sexually abused by a priest – then had her arm broken by a nun who found out about it, an inquiry heard yesterday.
Dr Theresa Tolmie-McGrane, now 55, said she was later forced to take 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. A nun said: ‘What goes on here, stays here.’
She was a resident of the Smyllum Park orphanage in Lanark, which is now under scrutiny by the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry.
At a hearing in Edinburgh yesterday, Dr Tolmie-McGrane said she informed police about abuse at Smyllum twice, but the nuns accused her of having ‘an overactive imagination’.
She also said it was common for children deemed to be misbehaving to be told by nuns and staff: ‘Mind you don’t end up like Sammy Carr.’
Describing her own abuse, Dr Tolmie-McGrane said a nun had walked in as she was being sexually abused by a priest in 1970.
But instead of helping her, the nun called her a ‘whore’, grabbed her and hurled her towards a wall.
Dr Tolmie-McGrane waived her right to anonymity to recount a catalogue of abuse during her 11 years at Smyllum, which closed in 1981. It included beatings, humiliations, freezing showers and being force-fed.
Dr Tolmie-McGrane recounted how, about two years later, she had a job dusting pews in the church.
One particular priest would arrive early and ask her to sit on his lap, before progressing to making her perform a sex act on him or watch as he did so.
“I need you to be a soldier of God, a good little soldier”,’ she told the inquiry, adding that the abuse went on for several months.
On one occasion, a nun walked in to the room as it was happening, she said. She told the hearing: ‘I thought, “Praise the Lord, she’s seeing this, she’s going to be angry with him and protect me”.
Her whole face became distorted. I thought, “She’s angry with him”, – but she was angry with me.
‘She called me a whore, she took my left arm and yanked me out of his lap and flung me across to the wall and said, “Get the f*** out of here”.’
Dr Tolmie-McGrane told how she crawled away and had to go back to the chapel – where the priest was giving Communion, and looked ‘furious’.
When another nun found out she could not raise her arm, she was dragged away by the ear and given ‘a real hiding’.
‘I said I couldn’t lift my arm, my arm hurt. I said a nun has broken my arm,’ Dr Tolmie-McGrane said.
She told the inquiry the second nun took her to hospital but warned her: ‘Don’t you dare tell anybody what happened, young lady, or I’ll break your other arm.’
She also assured her she would be ‘lying to protect a man of God, so it’s OK to lie’.