Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry.
Joanne Peacher(nee Thompson)
73. I understand an allegation has been made against me by Joanne Peacher (nee
Thompson) who was placed in care at Cardonald when I worked there. She was in
care at Cardonald from 12/01 /1979 to 26/01 /1979 and from 06/08/1980 to
20/12/1981. She says that she remembers a boy saying to her “Don’t believe in
Sister She’ll hit you because she hit me”. Joanne has gone on to say the boy
told her Sister hit him on the back of his head, and Joanne herself says she
never saw Sister doing anything like that.
7 4. I cannot recall Joanne Peacher now, with the passage of time I could have forgotten
her. I remember some of the children’s names, but I don’t know her name. I do not
recall hitting a boy on the back of the head, or who the boy might be or hitting any
child on the back of the head. I can offer no insight into why a boy said such a thing
about me. If it had happened it would be physical abuse, but I did not do it.
75. Joanne Peacher who was in care at Cardonald from 12/01/79 to 26/01/79 and from
06/08/1980 to 20/12/1981 has alleged “When I was 8, Sister was away at a
conference. was in charge of the bungalow. I was out in the snow
playing with another girl. shouted ‘Come in here, you.’ She whacked me
with a stick 3 or 4 times on my ankle bone. She hit the other girl on her back.
had told me not to say anything. She told me to say I’d fallen. I couldn’t
move my foot. Sister came back later that day, I was limping and she asked
what had happened. My ankle was swollen. I told her I’d fallen and twisted my ankle.
Sister took me up to the hospital. She phoned my mum, and my mum came
as well. I told the doctor my ankle had given way in the snow. They said I had a
fractured ankle. The doctor said it wasn’t a twisting injury and it looked like I’d been
hit with something. Sister kept asking what happened. I kept saying I’d fallen.
I think Sister knew I was lying because she kept asking me. I was too scared
to say anything. Sister went to the toilet. My mum asked me who had done it.
I told her, hit me with a stick’. I asked her not to tell Sister
because I thought I’d get into more trouble. She told me I wouldn’t. They put my foot
in plaster. My mum came back to the home with me. Everybody was asking me if
they could sign the plaster. was in the kitchen. My mum grabbed her and
said ‘if you touch my daughter again you’re going to get arrested’. Then my mum
punched her in the face. Sister pulled my mum off her and then went to have
tea with my mum. I went to my bed because my ankle was sore. came
said sorry to me. I said ‘it’s okay, but just don’t do it no more.’ She said ‘I promise I
won’t’. After that, she was closer to me than normal and being friendly. It didn’t feel
right – she was just being too close”. I have no knowledge of this girl hurting her
ankle or of taking a child to hospital. The name also does not ring any
bells for me.
Joanne Peacher said the appalling attacks took place in the late 1970s in a Nazareth House children’s home, which have been at the centre of several previous abuse scandals.
The Sisters of Nazareth, the Roman Catholic order of nuns which operated dozens of orphanages across Britain, recently apologised to children who suffered in their institutions in Northern Ireland.
That apology came at the start of a public inquiry in the Province, the largest of its kind in UK history, yet the Scottish Government has consistently ignored demands to set up a similar judge-led investigation here.
Last night, Mrs Peacher and her husband Andrew said they hoped that by coming forward with their story they could help put pressure on Holyrood ministers to start taking the issue seriously.
They reported both incidents to the police in 2002 but were eventually told there was not enough evidence to proceed. Last night, Police Scotland confirmed that a new inquiry was now underway.
Mrs Peacher was placed into the imposing, red-brick orphanage in Cardonald, Glasgow, by social services because her mother had drug addiction problems and couldn’t cope.
She said: “When I first got to Nazareth House I thought it was actually OK, the sisters were mostly nice and my sister used to be allowed to come and visit me. That all changed afterwards.
“I was sexually abused by one of the care staff. I was lying in bed with German measles and not allowed out for two weeks. I had also broken my leg so I was in a right state.
“She came in with a broom handle and a surgical mask over her face and she abused me with the stick. She never explained why and I never told anybody about it for a long time. Eventually I told my husband and we got the police involved but they couldn’t do anything.”
The 45 year old – who had learning difficulties as a child – has been left with enduring mental health problems which have scarred her life
The couple believe the motive was revenge because Mrs Peacher had complained to her mother that the woman, who was in her late 20s or early 30s at the time, had been bullying her.
Mrs Peacher added: “I was too scared to say anything to them about what happened and nobody knew about it, only me and her.
“After she did that to me one of her close friends told me she was sorry but to keep my mouth shut.”
However, within weeks of that horrific experience in the summer of 1978 – when she was just nine years old – Mrs Peacher claims that she and her two female room-mates were raped by a priest.
She said: “It was night time and I was in bed, he put the light on and jumped on top.”
“He was a young man and he did it to two other girls as well. Me and these two girls shared a bedroom. We talked about what happened but we never reported it because we were too scared.
“I knew he was a priest because he had the collar on. The abuse happened on separate nights. He did it to one girl once, another girl two times and he did it to me once.
“After this I wanted to get out of Nazareth House and they thought I might be missing my sister, so they moved me to another care home in Easterhouse where she was. I never saw either of my abusers again.”
However, the 45 year old – who had learning difficulties as a child even before the alleged attacks took place – has been left with enduring mental health problems which have scarred her life.
Now living in Grimsby, Lincolnshire, Mrs Peacher’s two children have been taken into care as a result of her personality disorder – although the couple are allowed regular contact with them.
Mr Peacher met his wife in 1987 and they were married in 1992, but it was several years later before she was finally able to tell him about the attacks.
He said: “Joanne has been left with mental health problems because of what happened to her and she will have to take some powerful drugs for the rest of her life.
“Because of this we have lost our children and it all links back to what happened at Nazareth House. If she hadn’t been in care then she could have had a normal life.”
The abuse was reported to the former Strathclyde Police in 2001 while the couple were living in Wishaw, Lanarkshire. However, three years later the procurator fiscal in Glasgow told them there was not enough evidence to proceed.
Mrs Peacher, who is still terrified by the thought of the woman in the surgical mask “coming back to get me”, said she was “really upset” and they decided not to pursue the case any further.
Now, however, they have decided to make another attempt at getting some kind of justice. Mr Peacher, 47, said: “It seems like the only way to expose what has been going on.”
A spokesman for the Sisters of Nazareth said they would help the police with their inquiry and would also launch their own internal investigation into the claims.
He added: “While we can’t comment specifically on this case, we deplore any abuse or mistreatment of children. We would advise Mrs Peacher to go back to the police again and also to speak to the Archdiocese of Glasgow Safeguarding Office.
“If she also reports the matter directly to the Sisters of Nazareth it will be dealt with appropriately and sympathetically.”
A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “We can confirm that a complaint has been made and inquiries are ongoing.”
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I WAS RAPED BY KAY ADAMS CARE WORKER .
The Scottish Inquiry.