The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) found that Nuns from the Daughters of Charity at the Smyllum Park orphanage routinely victimized children through a wide range of mistreatment, including sexual, emotional, and physical abuse.
The SCAI was initiated in October 2015 to investigate child abuse in care centres throughout Scotland. Inquiry chairwoman Rt. Hon. Lady Anne Smith published a report based on findings presented during a case study of the Smyllun orphanage near Lanark and Rutherglen-based Bellevue House.
The SCAI listened to over 20 days of evidence about abuses at the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, with 54 witnesses testifying about their experiences and 21 written statements.
The Inquiry is also looking at 86 additional institutions where allegations of sexual, physical and emotional abuse were reported at former boarding schools and other facilities.
To date, the SCAI has cost roughly £15.7 million and Scottish authorities have allowed the body to continue operating beyond its schedule end next year.
The Smyllum and Bellevue orphanages "were places of fear, coercive control, threat, excessive discipline and emotional, physical and sexual abuse" where children "found no love, no compassion, no dignity and no comfort," the report stated.
The Smyllum Park facility closed its doors in 1981 and the Bellevue House shut down in 1961.
The report found numerous abuses including sexual abuse by priests, including trainee priests, sisters, members of staff, volunteers, and even other children.
Children also suffered physical abuse and were beaten with leather straps, including the "Lochgelly Tawse", sticks, hairbrushes, shoes, rosary beads, dog leashes and even wooden crucifixes. They were routinely beaten as excessive punishment beyond reasoning the children could comprehend.
Bedwetting children were often beaten, placed in cold baths, or were forced to wear their soiled sheets while nuns ridiculed them.
Sisters would force-feed children by grabbing the backs of their heads and holding their noses to force open their mouths, sometimes continuing to feed even as the child began vomiting.
Lady Smith would take the findings into account while analyzing evidence recorded by the inquiry to decide which recommendations to include in the final report.